How do you raise a confident child from the author of ‘Teach Yourself: Be a happier parent with NLP’.
By far the most common problem parents call me about is lack of confidence in their child. From as young a 7 through to teenagers I see children in my clinic who have low self esteem. It soon emerges through our initial conversation that they or their partner, often both, are also shy. Children do tend to reflect our own strengths and weaknesses as well as inheriting our family characteristics in their genes. So how can we overcome this if we ourselves are quite shy? Here are some tips for raising a confident child.
- Use a ‘feedback sandwich’. Instead of criticising your child or telling them off use the same technique that is taught in management training. First tell them what you like about what they are doing. Then tell them what would be ‘even better’. Finish on a good note. What you are pleased about overall.
“It’s great that you are helping me with the shopping. What would be even better would be if you could find some of the things on the shopping list. Overall, that’s really kind of you to help me today.”
- Focus on what you’d like to see more of rather than what you don’t want. What you focus on is what you get. Notice what’s good and comment on it and avoid mentioning the negative. Children like to be noticed when they do something well so encourage that behaviour.
If your child has been whining during your shopping trip, say nothing and then when they stop or say something without whining smile and say how good it is to have their company shopping today.
- When your child says they ‘can’t do’ something instead of questioning that or contradicting them, suggest instead ‘what if you could?’ and find an example in your memory of a time when they did do that thing or something similar to it.
“I can’t do my homework”
“What if you could? You did your homework yesterday and you were really proud of yourself weren’t you?”
- Children need to learn how to say ‘no’ and mean it because in the future when they get older they will have to say ‘no’ to drugs, drink and sex when they are tempted by their peers. They learn this from you when they are young. If they only hear you saying ‘yes’ or they can get their own way and get a ‘yes’ from you if they keep nagging, this does not teach them the meaning of ‘no’ or how to say it.
“No, that’s not possible today I’m sorry.”
- The word ‘don’t’ is a toxic word and tends to result in your child doing what you’ve just asked him not to do because you’ve inadvertently put the idea into their head. You’ve heard the expression ‘ Don’t think of pink elephants’ haven’t you?
“Now don’t go asking me for sweets”
- The map is not the territory. Shopping trips are very boring for children and they might be boring for you as well but at least you have some control over what is bought. Give your child some choices too. Pick an area of the shopping list where they can choose such as yoghurts, cereals, fruit or biscuits. This encourages confidence and makes the trip more involving for them.
- Notice when your child shows confidence and point it out to them. Sometimes children decide they are not confident because in one area of their life they lack confidence but this won’t be true of all areas.
- The word ‘but’ takes away whatever you said before and can lead to poor self esteem. Use ‘and’ instead.
“You did your homework today really well without being reminded but I wish you’d put your books away afterwards”
“You did your homework today really well without being reminded and I wish you’d put your books away afterwards”
- Give your child eye contact when you speak to them. This is respectful and what we want them to do with others. Children gain confidence through being treated respectfully by their parents and teachers.
- Encourage them to check in with their own values rather than accepting what others say. Ask ‘and what do you think?’ to encourage them to have confidence in their own opinions.
Judy Bartkowiak is a Family Coach practising in the Home Counties and can be contacted on 01628 660618. She has written a number of NLP books for parents, children and teens. You can buy them from her website www.engagingnlp.com