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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Raising Confident Kids

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I’ve written a book about raising confident kids, so it’s relatively easy for me to sit down and type out an “everything you ever wanted to know” list about how to do it. But getting things off the page and into real life is another matter. Just recently, one of my children wailed to me, “Mom! What’s wrong with me? Why haven’t things gotten better for me at school?”

I wanted to immediately throw some get-confident-quick plan at my child, and hug away the pain. But as a well-known child psychologist said, a parent’s “love is not enough; parents need skills” to raise confident kids. Here’s everything you should know about how to raise confident kids.

Let them do it.

The more we help our children develop the ability to do things on their own, and do them well, the more confidence they’ll develop. Let your child do as much as he can for himself. Even if you want to rush in to show him how to do it better, or easier, resist. You should identify with the difficulty of the task, “Whew. Learning to tie shoes is tough.” However, if you say something like, “It’s easy, you can do it!” your child will feel like a failure if it doesn’t come easily.

Make failure their friend.

The billionaire inventor of Spanx says her dad would ask her each night, “What did you fail at today?” He made it okay to try and fail. Teach your kids that it takes courage to try something, and that failure is just part of the learning process. “You’ll never know until you try… so try!”

Practice your own self-confidence. 

If you shy away from trying new things, your child will notice. You don’t have to put on a false bravado. Say something like this instead, “You know, I am really afraid to apply for a new job at my office, but I’m confident I can do it well, so I’m going to apply anyway.”

Project confidence onto your child.

When you see your child exhibiting confidence, announce it to her. “I loved the way you walked up to home plate with such confidence. You might have been scared inside, but I sure couldn’t tell.” You can also use this list of 38 things accepting mothers say for targeted praise that builds confidence.

Brag on them.

Let your child hear you singing his praises. Just last week I said within earshot of my son, “You should’ve seen Andrew walk right up to his math teacher this morning to ask about making up the homework he didn’t turn in. Instead of asking me to talk to Mr. Taylor, he took initiative.”

Here are 5 things your child should never hear you say to them.

Correct carefully.

I’ve learned to try to target the problem, instead of my child. Just last week my son was about to rip the handle off a dresser drawer because it was stuck. Instead of saying, “Stop pulling! You’re going to break it!” I said, “When a drawer gets stuck, there’s usually something in the back preventing it from opening.” Let them solve the problem with the information you’ve given them. Remember, be firm, but kind.

Assess school placement.

You might have your child in advanced classes, and that’s great if he’s capable. But is that class undermining your child’s confidence? Or, your child might be getting picked on at school so much that his confidence is plummeting. Look at your school options — is it time for a change? Same goes with extracurricular activities. If your child is always the worst one, maybe it’s time to switch to something with a greater chance of success.

Locally sourced.

Locally sourced food is very popular. People want to know where their food was grown and who grew it. Teach your child  he is “spiritually sourced.” He has value because he is God’s child, unique and perfect just because of who he is and whose he is.

How do you give your child confidence?


What would you try to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

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