Self-confidence is crucial for children to learn how to overcome challenges and bounce back from setbacks. Here are tips from an expert on how you can make your child both competent and confident.
By Dr Chaitanya Sridhar
Eight-year-old Saurav is at the playground with his mom, Radhika. He wants to play on the swing but another child is sitting on it and refusing to let other children have a turn.
"Mamma, tell that child to get off the swing," Saurav tells his mother.
"No, Saurav, why don't you go tell the child yourself. She looks like she is your age," his mother Radhika points out. She believes that Saurav is old enough to fight his own battles. Also, she wants him to develop the confidence to face such problems. But Saurav does not want to go on his own.
"Let's just go home, Mamma," he says, instead.
Radhika tries to change his mind but he does not budge. The mother worries about her son's lack of confidence. It may affect him later in life, she feels. But she does not know how she can help him become more self-confident and capable.
In my practice, one of the most common complaints I hear from parents is, 'My child is not confident'. But when I talk in-depth with the parents, what invariably comes out is that the child has not learnt how to be confident. A crucial aspect that is often missed here is that the child’s support network, to a large extent, determines how she is going to feel and fare in life. So, I always try to find out from parents how confident they are. I ask them what their first response to a challenge is — be it to work or life’s challenges.
As parents, remember that you are the first teachers for your child. Your home is the first school. Over-anxious and protective parents need to make this playground of learning fun and stimulating. After all, it is through mistakes that we learn, especially how to walk and talk.
What kind of parenting style do you follow at home? Are you too controlling, permissive or democratic? Democratic is deemed the best, for here, you allow the child to try out new things and take on challenges. This is vital to instil confidence in your child.
What we do every day determines how we’ll face life, its goals and challenges. If we focus on providing the right atmosphere and support, the ripple effect will be seen on all aspects of the child’s personality. So, every parent’s goal should be to empower children to achieve their dreams, not to fulfil parental dreams.
Dr Chaitanya Sridhar is a Sports and Performance Psychologist with a doctorate from UWA–Australia.
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