Looking back on your life, when have you felt the most confident? How did it feel? Did you feel strong, healthy, vibrant and connected? Was your confidence linked to your environment or dependent on external validation? I find it fascinating to watch confident children. We can learn so much from them if we have the presence and humility to let them teach us. They are at ease in their body and they have an incredible ability to be fully present in the moment. They know who they are and they’re unapologetic about their presence, preferences and opinions. They know they’re loved, simply for who they are.
Confidence is a dynamic state and it often fluctuates depending on our life circumstances and environment. For example, we might feel confident in our professional life until we decide to change jobs or our career and suddenly, we find ourselves feeling like an awkward beginner again. However, true confidence or quiet confidence is not dependent on external circumstances. It comes with not only knowing who we are but being true to who we are. It comes with knowing what we need in order to thrive and honouring and prioritizing these things. Confidence comes with knowing that our value is not dependent on what we do or what we have. How do we role model confidence and support the children in our lives to develop or sustain it as they move into adolescence and adulthood?
Practical tips for raising confident kids
#1 - Cultivate connection
Cultivate connection. Children know whether we are distracted or fully present. When we give them our time and full attention, it reminds them that they are important to us and it helps create and maintain a strong healthy adult-child attachment. This attachment gives them a sense of security as they navigate the challenges of daily life and provides them with a safe place to return to when they feel threatened or insecure. When life feels full or we are tired, it can be challenging to eliminate distractions and be fully present. Keep in mind that it’s about quality over quantity! As often as possible, connect for even five minutes first thing in the morning, after time apart for school, extra-curricular activities, work, etc. and before bedtime. If the child(ren) in your life, live outside of your home, connecting consistently is key. These moments of connection can be simple and by letting the child determine what feels meaningful to them in the moment, we can help them learn to articulate what they need. Often, we simply need to be fully present and listen well.
#2 - Pay attention
Notice how you talk about yourself and others. When we are critical of ourselves or others, children pick up on the underlying message and they begin to internalize this information to determine their sense of self-worth. Over time, our voice becomes their inner critic. Children also learn to compare themselves to others in the same way that we do. Are we focused on how other people look, what they wear, what they do for work, where they live and vacation, or what kind of vehicle they drive? Ask yourself, “Is this comment helpful and kind or is it simply me complaining or gossiping to make myself feel better?” If we’re going to talk about other people at all, how can we shift our focus to highlight how someone inspires us, what we love or admire about them, how they show up, or how we feel when we’re around them? And, when we talk about ourselves, how can we model self-compassion and a growth mindset?
#3 - Create an environment where it’s safe to make mistakes
By talking about our own challenges and what we learned or how we addressed them, children will begin to understand that this is a normal part of life. We all make mistakes & encounter setbacks. Resilience is the ability to move through these challenges and keep going. When we support children to problem solve without taking over and “fixing” things, we help them develop confidence in their ability to adapt & figure things out. Trying new things together normalizes the process of feeling like a beginner and learning through trial & error. It also provides us with opportunities to praise children for their effort & perseverance rather than the outcome.
Start by making one small sustainable change and watch for the ripple effect that it creates. We all need connection, adaptability, and resilience!
Through interactive workshops & personalized coaching, Alexia and the Strong Healthy Kids team support adults & children who are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or disconnected to develop the foundation skills needed to feel safe, happy, healthy & strong. Their vision is that every child would have the confidence to make healthy choices & navigate the unique challenges in periods of transition throughout their lifetime, with the support of healthy adult role models and a community in which they feel valued, connected & empowered.