3/21/2016

Just for Families: Build confidence in your children

“…my father, Mickey Parsons, he encouraged me to be an actor. He never discouraged me to be an actor, and in a career that hinges so much on confidence a lot of the time, that was a really great gift.” — Jim Parsons, Emmy Speech 2014

So much of our success in life depends on the encouragement we receive from parents and other family members. While not everyone is raising future actors and actresses, like Mickey Parsons did, building confidence in your children is vital to their future success. Here are a few tips to instill confidence in your children.

  • Think about your praise. While all children need lots of encouragement, providing specific praise focusing on process (“You must have studied very hard!” vs. “You’re so smart!”) nurtures a growth mindset. Placing weight on effort rather than fixed traits can instill confidence in children.

  • Avoid rescuing your kids. It can be tough to see your child get hurt, feel discouraged, or fail at something. However, children need to know that it is okay to fail, and that feeling upset, anxious, or mad is normal. Confidence in children comes from them overcoming obstacles, rather than being constantly rescued by others.

  • Let them make decisions. When kids have the opportunity to make their own choices, they gain confidence from their own good judgment and having control. Give them 2-3 options to choose from (e.g., pasta or peanut butter and jelly for lunch) so that they are not overwhelmed.

  • Focus on the positives. Help them think about specific ways to improve their situation and bring them closer to their goals. Having an optimistic outlook can encourage feelings of confidence in children.

  • Encourage their special interests. When your child finds an activity or subject they really love, encourage them to pursue it. Children feel proud of their expertise in the area.