I was musing as to what was the most important thing a parent could teach his child and it occurred to me that it must be confidence because confidence is at the root of success. It is that characteristic that impels someone to reach out and risk new ventures while believing that with sound planning, there are few limitations in life. It is that characteristic that allows one to stand alone when all others ascribe to a certain belief, and voice his opinion and act on it regardless of how others may differ. Ultimately, it is the mark of one who is successful in life.
Teaching your child self-confidence is just one of many skills that parents need to incorporate into their everyday child-rearing program. First, just as in all other things that a parent does, role-modeling is key. Of course, this means that parents need to have a relative degree of confidence in their own capabilities and a strong sense of who they are. And the strong sense of self invariably has roots in a set of values that provides the basis for their own lives-values that will also be passed on to their offspring.
A parent can raise a child’s confidence by providing opportunities to test new behaviors, and then encouraging and praising him for his efforts. This does not mean that you make the child believe his painting is the best one you’ve ever seen when it’s not. It means that you praise him for his efforts and encourage him to keep painting because it is only through repetition that one improves his skills. This is true whether repetition relates to chores around the home or to artistic and/or sport endeavors.
I also believe that it is the parent’s duty at times to push the child when the child thinks he’s a ‘failure’ and wants to give up on a project. By staying the course, the child learns the value of perseverance and determination in reaching goals on his road to success. And when it happens that a child fails to reach a pre-defined goal, it’s important for him to learn that temporary failure is also part of the overall picture of success so it’s alright to miss the mark at times. Indeed, the old adage “It’s better to aim high and miss the mark than to aim low and make it,” really is true because winners always aim high.
It is my belief that a confident child is one with a strong sense of self: that child on the playground that will stick up for others against the bullies; the one who will volunteer for extra-curricular activities because he is eager to learn new skills; the one who will not give in to peer pressure because he lives by his own code and has no need to prove himself to others; and the one who will consistently set attainable and realistic goals because he will have a strong sense of his capabilities.
And in the final analysis he will be the one who will go on to accomplish much with his life because he believes in himself and knows his strengths and limitations.
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