12 Ways to raise a confident child (part 8 of 12)

Self-esteem is your child’s passport to a lifetime of mental health and social happiness. It’s the foundation of a child’s well-being and the key to success as an adult. At all ages, how you feel about yourself affects how you act. Think about a time when you were feeling really good about yourself. You probably found it much easier to get along with others and feel good about them. Try these tips and advice to help raise a confident child.

Follow the journey…

Help Your Child be Home-Wise Before Street Smart

Sometime during your parenting career, you may run into the idea that a young child should be exposed to children with different values so that he can choose for himself. This may sound good, but it tends not to work. It’s like sending a ship to sea without a rudder or a captain. Only by chance will that ship reach a desirable destination. Children are too valuable to be left to chance.

Screen Your Child’s Friends

The child’s values and self-concept are affected by persons of significance in his life— relatives, coaches, teachers, religious leaders, scout leaders, and friends. It’s up to the parents to screen out those who pull down the child’s character and encourage those that build it in order to raise a confident child. Keep a watchful eye on your child’s friendships. First, let your child choose his own friends and monitor the relationships. At the end of a play experience, examine your child’s feelings. Is he at peace or upset? Are the children compatible? Coupling a passive person with a strong personality is all right if the stronger child pulls your child up rather than knocking him down.

While some children will wisely seek out complimentary playmates on their own, sometimes it is helpful to set up your child by purposely exposing him to appropriate peers. Some groups of children just naturally seem to get along well. If your child’s group does not seem to have the right chemistry, it would be wise to intervene. By being a monitoring mom, Martha was able to come to the rescue of one of our children who was being intimidated and blackmailed into stealing money from us. This junior racketeer in the neighborhood was busted because Martha became suspicious of certain phone calls and listened in one day. Our frightened seven-year-old was in way over his head and was greatly relieved when we intervened.

Keep a Kid-Friendly Home

Make your home inviting to your child’s friends. Yes, you will have more messes to clean up, but it’s worth it. Hosting the neighborhood helps you monitor your child; it gives you the opportunity to observe your child’s social style and generally learn more about your child’s personality—which social behaviors are appropriate and which need improving. You’ll be able to make on-the-spot disciplinary interventions, either with your child in a private lesson or in group therapy, if the whole pack needs some redirecting. The roots of a young child’s self-concept come from home and nurturing caregivers.

After six years of age, peer influence becomes increasingly important. The deeper the roots of home-grown self-confidence, the better-equipped kids are to interact with peers in a way that builds up self-worth rather than tearing it down. They know how to handle peers who are fun to play with and those that give them problems. When children are attachment parented, they are well equipped to manage different environments (home, grandparents, preschool, Sunday school) with different rules very well. For healthy social development, a child first must be comfortable with himself before he can be comfortable with others.

Cling to Homebase

In normal development, a child moves out from the known into the unknown. She tries out new experiences in much the same way that an attached infant learns to separate from mother. It is quite normal for a child to retreat periodically into the comfort of the known (her home and family) as she progressively ventures into the jungle of the unknown. It is important for the child to have a strong attachment base. Being shy does not mean that a child has a poor self-image. She needs an extra dose of confidence so that she can follow her own inner timetable in adjusting to new situations and relationships.

Parents often wonder what degree of clinging to home base is normal. Look at the problem over the course of an entire year. If you see no change in the child’s willingness to venture out, that may be unhealthy. But if you see some gradual moving out, then your child is simply a cautious social developer, which is characteristic of sensitive children, who may form a few meaningful and deep relationships, rather than numerous superficial ones.

December 21, 2020 December 21, 2020 Dr. Bill Sears

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