Confidence Without Clarity Is Disastrous: Show Your Child The Right Way!
Created by Swapna Nair Updated on Feb 17, 2021
We often hear parents making these statements:
‘You finished solving the math problems so fast! You are smart, son!’
‘ my child you sing so well, he will become the next Kishore Kumar’
‘my child is too sensitive; always crying.’
‘she talks so loudly’; she has clay in her head instead of brains’
Of course, all parents want the best for their child. No one wants to do any harm. Every parent dreams of their child growing to be smart and confident. Somewhere along the way the messages get mixed up. So, how do we go about teaching children to be confident the right way?
Accept your child as he/she is. Love is the foundation, it is that which keeps the child grounded and balanced. For children, attention is equal to love. Undivided attention when your child speaks matters the most. Your child knows when you listen. Haven’t you heard our child say to you,’ mom you aren’t listening?’ Stop your work for a few minutes and listen to your child. Your child will grow up to be confident that he/she has your ear, your support. There is the famous story of a child telling her father, ‘Dad you take my hand and hold, for I know you will not let it go. I know, then, I am safe’.
Encourage And Motivate
While talking to your child or about your child be aware of the words you use. Be alert about the tone you use. Being strict does not mean you use harsh language. Children are sensitive about the message they receive. Think of the child whose mother comments she has clay rather than brains. The child would grow up with such low self-esteem. If you berate your child that he/she is not obeying, not studying, please remember that the child is hearing only the negative. Can you change the negative talk into positive? What if you say, ‘ I see that you are struggling with this topic, let us work it out together.’ The child is immediately reassured and motivated. Parents have to practise the words and tone even among themselves so that it flows naturally to everyone around. We are the best role models in the family.
Praise Your Child
The right kind of praise – It is very common to comment- good boy, good girl.
What are we praising them for? If we are praising them merely for their intelligence or talent ( which is common) then we are also sending out a hidden message. The hidden message is that they are valued for their intelligence and talent only.
For example, if you say, ‘ you got the first rank with hardly any studying done. Wow so brilliant.’
There are children who will interpret it as ‘I should not study then. If they see me studying they may think I am not brilliant.’ He/she grows up with an inflated ego.
Rather praise them the correct way.
Example- ‘I saw you put in hard work. You revised many times. This time I saw you writing out the answers. You sacrificed your tv and phone time.’ Such messages reflect that you have observed the efforts taken by your child. You are praising the efforts and hard work.
Effort and hard work are in their control. Intelligence and talent are not. Hence you make them confident. They now know that if they work hard and use time effectively they can achieve better results.
Coping With Failure
The concept of failure varies from person to person. It is important that at home you role model the behaviour you want from your children. If you are harsh upon yourself then your child learns that failure is bad. Do not attempt to preach. Rather teach by example. Teach that failure is part of life. Empathise with their frustration. Do not brush them off.
So your child comes crying, ‘I did not get full marks in Hindi.’ Instead of pitying the child or talking negative about the teacher/school/exam, sit down with your child. Go through the answer paper. Identify the errors caused. Make a promise (and keep it) that you would help out every evening for 15 minutes. Chalk out a plan. Break the goal into small achievable steps and help your child. Who said parenting is easy!
When you are calm and seeking alternatives your child is confident that he/she can overcome any issue. You are teaching him/her to resolve a problem. You are also not judging your child. You are instilling the spirit of sportsmanship.
Assertive rather than aggressive- Coach your child on emotion management. Help them verbalise their feelings. Guide them on how to deal with anger, fear, envy etc.
Teach them it is ok to disagree but politely. It is ok to say a No without feeling overwhelmed or guilty. This way they are speaking for themselves. They avoid abuse and bullying when they are confident.
It is natural that we tend to overprotect our children. Look around! The bird pushes its young one from the nest/tree. The tigress pushes her cub onto the field. Coach, don’t control. Coaches build skills. Skills make life happen!
All the best!