How to Raise a Confident Child

Throughout October 2012, we’ll be working on the concept of “self-esteem.”

All our discussions and activities will aim to help our students understand why they should regard themselves highly and feel good about who they are.

Powerful Words is the name of our character development curriculum here at Urban Martial Arts. It’s designed by one of the nation’s leading childhood development experts, Dr. Robyn Silverman. Every month, we’ll focus on a different Powerful Word, or concept around character development.

In this post, Dr. Robyn answers a question from a parent who wishes her child had more confidence.

Dear Dr. Robyn,

What am I supposed to do? One of my children is so down on himself all the time. How can I help to improve his confidence in himself?

— Amanda A.; Chicago, Il

Dear Amanda,

We all want our children to feel good about themselves for who they are, what they do and who they are working to become.

Here are some ways to ensure that that can happen:

(1) Replace negative language:

When we consistently speak negatively about ourselves, our ugly words stick in our heads.

Our negative self-talk becomes our truth and sets the tone of how others see us as well.

Encourage your son to say at least 3 positive things about himself each day so that he creates a new habit of positive self talk.

(2) Provide interesting experiences:

By encouraging your child to participate in activities that he enjoys, your child will have more positive experiences that will enable him to feel good about himself.

He will also have the ability to make progress, help others and perhaps even master skills in his chosen area.

Whether it’s in sports, academics, school, volunteerism or other community activities, when and where does he feel best?

(3) Give praise when deserved:

Those with low self esteem are more likely to receive low praise or, on the other side of the spectrum, too much “empty praise” such that they don’t believe the eulogizing words anymore.

Real praise is giving when it’s due.

It often gives a purposeful nod to the person’s character and the impact of that person’s contribution. It becomes very meaningful and internalized.

(4) Discourage negative comparisons:

Comparison can be a dangerous slope.

Someone always seems to win or lose.

Those with low self esteem often short change themselves internally while either (a) elevating someone else (“you’re so much better than me”) or (b) trying their best to cut others off at the knees in an attempt to elevate themselves (“I’m so much better than you”).

Neither are helpful to anyone.

People with high self esteem don’t need to make comparisons to demean others or elevate themselves.

Rather, they focus on what each person can bring to the table in terms of strengths.

This makes everyone feel worthwhile.

Good luck and remember, strong self esteem is not changed in a day but built over time!

Here’s to your success!

Dr. Robyn

To give you more ideas for conversation topics, here’s a run-down of what we’ll be discussing this month:

Week 1 Self esteem defined: What is it, what we say and think about ourselves
Week 2 Self esteem and our abilities: Talent, effort and outcome
Week 3 Self esteem and comparisons: Body, mind, skills and strengths
Week 4 Self esteem, friends & family: The people who we want to surround us

About Dr. Robyn:
Dr. Robyn Silverman, child development specialist, body image/body bullying expert, sought-after speaker and award-winning writer, is known for her no-nonsense yet positive approach to helping young people and their families thrive. Her ground-breaking research at Tufts University on young women is the foundation for her book, “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It.”

Image Credit: cheriejoyful on Flickr