It can be argued that raising children who are able to tackle the world with confidence, resilience and emotional intelligence is one of the most important roles of a parent.
But how does one go about this?
How does a parent raise a child that is not only resilient and emotionally regulated when facing problems, but has the confidence to act upon it?
Perhaps it is the case that these qualities prevent a child, and later an adult, from getting into sticky situations in the first place as they’re able to recognise and analyse potential risk before they happen.
An interesting thought this…
Imagining raising a child who is able to recognise when a problem is arising and be able to defuse it before it manifests into something unmanageable?
Isn’t that a skill we’d all like at some, if not at all, times in our life?
There are ways that a parent can achieve this, and it starts when their child is young.
Let’s look at what parents of confident children have in common:
- They show love, empathy and affection to their child and others.
Many years ago, the myth that a child is ‘toughened up’ by harsh, punitive discipline was debunked by scientific research. Interestingly, many parents still believe this is an effective means of disciplining and boosting a child’s resilience.
Unfortunately this is not the case.
What it does is make the child create a hard shell around their emotions, which in turn means they are unable to regulate their own emotions in public, express their feelings meaningfully, and can lead to maladjustment as an adult.
This hard shell tricks the parent into thinking that their child is now ‘tough’ because they aren’t reacting emotionally to something. In reality, the emotion is still there, but it is hidden and internally churning away inside the child.
A more effective way to ‘toughen up’ (or give resilience to) a child is to show them love, affection and empathy. Research and experience tells us that these qualities come from parents who respond to their child with warmth, use respectful dialogue, are consistent in responses, provide a safe and predictable home environment, and a balance of boundaries and independence.
2. They give their child a balance of boundaries, independence, and choices.
Children are given boundaries from their parents by learning about the consequences of their actions. They can then confidently apply this knowledge to new situations and recognise what is acceptable and not acceptable.
Children who are told they will be disciplined if they do or not do something learn to fear being in trouble. This insight cannot be applied to other situations if the parent isn’t there or if the fear of getting disciplined wears off.
Parents of confident children give them boundaries by speaking to them about how their actions many impact themselves or others rather than the threat of punishment. For example, “If you play on the stairs, you may get hurt or hurt someone else’ is more effective than, “If you play on the stairs, you’re going to be in so much trouble”. This also reinforces the key empathy message from point 1.
Parents of confident children give them space to explore their environment knowing that their child will return to them if needed. A confident child who is permitted to explore their environment will look back to their secure base (the parent) for reassurance that they are okay. A parent can create themselves as a secure base by showing warmth, love, and predictability to the child.
Lastly, giving a child choices instills a sense of responsibility and confidence in their decision. If a parent asks their child to put on their pajamas when they’re in the middle of playing a game, they’ll likely be asking all night! But, if a parent asks their child ‘do you want to put your pajamas on now or after your next turn/at the end of the game?’, the child is given the responsibility to make their own decision which reinforces the likelihood of them actually doing it. And you getting the outcome you desire too – the pajamas will be put on!
3. Their relationship is one of predictability
Do you respond consistently to your child in different situations? Are they sometimes allowed to jump on the bed but other times not and get into trouble?
Parents of children who are confident have consistent responses across situations and carers. Having predictable parenting teaches the child what they can expect from the parent when they behave wrongly or rightly in different situations.
The advice is, once you’ve made a decision about how to respond to something stick to it. Obviously with greater insight and knowledge you can later change your mind if you think your first decision wasn’t reasonable, but for the every day events (your child being allowed to get out of bed once they’re in it and night, whether a child is allowed to eat snacks in the late afternoon), a consistent and predictable response works best.
4. They use a variety of parenting techniques
Parents of confident children have used a number of different parenting techniques over time to find out which ones work the best for their family. Notice how I said family and not child, and this is because the best decision has to be one that suits all (most) members of the family.
Distraction, explanation of consequences, prevention, diffusion, using bedtime conversations, implementing pretend play, hierarchy of responses, are all techniques that can be used with children to promote behaviour change. Parents often find that what works well for one child may not work for their sibling and this is because of the children’s unique temperaments and personality, their birth order and their stage of development.
5. They role model confidence themselves
Your behaviour will have more of an impact on your child than your words. We’ve heard this so many times, but you know what, it’s true, and it’s especially true for children.
They look at you as their role model, their idol, the person who knows everything about everything. If you demonstrate what confidence looks like, your child will take note.
Parents of confident children talk about themselves and others positively. Parents of confident children show leadership, give praise, are generous, kind to others, are respectful and show love to their loved ones.
There are many ways to raise confident children, these are only five of them. For an extensive list and examples of how you can implement them in your home, start with my Free Ebook (Why won’t my child listen to me) which is available for you right now.
If you would like to learn more tips and tricks on how to have a positive impact on your child, become a course member today for $7.
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