As parents, teachers, and coaches it is our job to equip young women (and boys too) with the confidence they will need to lead and succeed. And, that doesn’t happen by accident. It requires us to be intentional in the way we interact with our kids. We must intentionally challenge our children to achieve more than they believe they can, and to celebrate their accomplishments with them. Here are some tips for raising confident kids, whether girls or boys:
1. Confidence comes from ability.
Say “You must be very proud of yourself” INSTEAD of “I’m really proud of you”
Positively engage your kids to experience new things and conquer new challenges. Encourage them to confidently explore their world and learn new things without projecting your own fears on them.
When kids develop courage early in childhood, it will be a lifelong gift to help them fearlessly engage and learn.
Teach your kids to own the pride and sense of accomplishment that come from achievement. Say things like “wow, you must feel really good about that!” Or, “you must be very proud of yourself” INSTEAD of saying “I’m really proud of you”.
Teaching kids to feel good about their accomplishments instead of pleasing others will empower them with a strong sense of self worth that others cannot destroy.
2. Teach kids about character rather than appearance – especially for girls.
Commend girls for their courage, accomplishments, character, choices, and leadership, instead of how they look. The constant focus on outward appearance objectifies girls and emphasizes form over substance.
Teach kids to stand tall, look adults in the eye and politely and confidently converse with them.
Teach kids to take the first step to warmly greet others and make them feel welcome and valued.
Teach kids how to get acquainted with older people by asking about their interests, work, family, etc. This takes practice!
Remember that we develop new skills by practicing them and developing this social skill will help kids lead and succeed throughout life.
3. Hold kids accountable instead of making excuses.
2. acknowledging the harm/damage they caused
3. figuring out how to fix it or make it right
4. following through the “fix it” plan.
Parents who patiently and compassionately hold kids accountable develop future leaders.
“When my own daughter was about 6 years old she came home with a lovely bouquet of flowers she had picked from our neighbors yard. We had a discussion about private property and taking things without permission that belonged to others. Then, I coached her in what she needed to do.
I walked to the neighbor’s home with her and stood beside her as she knocked on the door. When Mr. Jones answered, I prompted “Debra, what would you like to tell Mr. Jones?” Debra told Mr. Jones that she had picked his flowers, that she was sorry, and asked for his forgiveness. Then, she presented the flowers back to Mr. Jones in a vase where we had carefully arranged them. It was a powerful lesson for a young girl and helped to shape the confident leader that Debra is today.” – Doreen
Every child has the potential to become strong, resilient, and to develop leadership qualities. But kids need the coaching, acceptance, encouragement, patience, and leadership of the adults in their lives to reach the potential within. Wherever and whenever your life touches others, be a positive influence!
We’d love to hear from you! Please share with our community a story of where you have assisted your child in building confidence too.
SAFbaby’s Health Expert Adviser Doreen Bolhuis
Doreen Bolhuis is the President/CEO of Gymco Inc., a multi-sport facility for children in its 31st year of operation in Grand Rapids, MI. Doreen is the creator of Gymtrix, an innovative DVD series to teach physical literacy for babies – 10 yrs. She is a co-founder and partner of Motion Evolution, a licensed national fitness and physical literacy program for children. Doreen’s passion is advocating healthy lifestyles and fighting obesity by empowering parents to create active kids from infancy.
Doreen holds a B.S. degree in Physical Education, Health and Recreation. She has over 35 years experience teaching locally, nationally and internationally and is currently an adjunct professor for Aquinas College in the department of Health and Physical Education. Doreen has appeared in local, national and international media (CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The N.Y. Times) as a guest expert in Physical Literacy. Doreen is a former elite level gymnastics coach and member of the Junior Olympic Committee for USA Gymnastics.