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Raising children to believe in themselves

Raising children to believe in themselves

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A child that enters adulthood knowing they’re someone who deserves respect and love, will have a much easier time dealing with life’s up’s and down’s than a child who feels that they are fundamentally lacking.

So how do we help our kids to feel good about themselves and bring a healthy sense of confidence to what they do in life? There are a few tips that are worth noting and implementing as part of everyday parenting.

Listen and accept

Firstly, listen to and accept your child’s feelings. It’s a very simple but profound experience to have your feelings heard and validated. Many children grow up with the messages that they shouldn’t be feeling what they are feeling and this sets them up to believe their emotional sensor is out of kilter and unreliable. The basic practice of taking your child’s experience seriously and helping them to make sense of it (by being genuine interested and sensitive to it) will give them an enormous gift of feeling both validated and respected.

In practice, it can be as simple as directly acknowledging what you hear them say. Offering them support is invaluable and can be as simple as something like ‘you sound scared about your test tomorrow, can I help you at all?’

They have their own opinions

Letting them have their own opinions is another way of directly affirming their experiences and unique perspective of life. Even if you don’t agree with what they believe, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong for thinking these things. It can feel like a stretch to live alongside another person who has radically different views to you, however if you enforce your opinions on your children, you are putting them in exactly that position and in doing so, are undermining and dis-empowering their sense of self. See if you can find ways to open up discussions and respond respectfully so that they too will learn how to respond to views that are different to their own.

Don’t label

Raising children to believe in themselvesAvoid labelling them or overtly judging their behaviours or attitudes. If there is something that you don’t understand, seek advice from a trusted partner or friend and risk sharing your judgement. Then out of this, see if you can find a way of communicating whatever you need to that involves owning your feelings and stating your needs, rather than making your child wrong for doing something.

Validate their contribution to your family

Acknowledge what you love about your child and the ways in which they affect and touch you. The sentence ‘one of the things I love about you is….’ is very powerful way to send a strong message of acceptance and value to a young person.

Take risks

Help them to take risks in life and ensure they know you believe in them and that there is no pressure to succeed. If they come up against a struggle, listen to their feelings about the situation and let them know it’s normal to find certain situations hard. Share experiences from your life where you have had challenges and overcome them and let them into secret fears that you carry and ways in which you continue to take risks anyway.




About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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