Self Confidence for Children

by | Jun 9, 2001 | Education, POLITICS

Q : My wife and I want to teach our four-year-old son to have self-confidence. How can we teach him? A: This is too vast a subject to appropriately answer in a short column. I can, however, give you some general principles. Here they are: Make sure you are confident about yourself, first. Credit yourself […]

Q : My wife and I want to teach our four-year-old son to have self-confidence. How can we teach him?

A: This is too vast a subject to appropriately answer in a short column. I can, however, give you some general principles. Here they are:

Make sure you are confident about yourself, first. Credit yourself when you do well; constructively criticize yourself when necessary. Work to be very fair and objective with yourself. The more you have internalized this approach to yourself, the more you will automatically bring this same reasonable approach to those close to you — most especially your son.

As much as possible, talk to your son as if he’s an adult. Obviously, he can’t be expected to grasp concepts that a ten-year-old or twenty-year-old would. Don’t talk to him using language or concepts he cannot possibly yet grasp. But nevertheless, don’t talk down to him either. Help him think through dilemmas on his own, with you as a coach. Talk to him in age-appropriate terms he can understand, but don’t automatically fall into baby talk and silly talk like most adults do with young children. There’s a time for play and silliness, but not as the normal course of conversation.

When he’s honestly making a mistake, don’t chastise him. Just correct him, and provide reasons whenever possible. Sometimes he’ll deliberately do something wrong. In those cases, speak to him in a firm voice: “No, don’t do that. Stop that!” Soon after, reassure him that you still love him, but that he must remember that such-and-such rule is important for such-and-such reason. Keep in mind that he’s only a child and testing the boundaries is part of his growing up. It’s also not personal. Never take a child’s irrational behavior (seemingly or actually irrational) personally. It’s not about you, in most cases; it’s about his growth and learning.

Read to him. Teach him to read on his own. Don’t wait for a school system which most likely will be inadequate (or worse). Be patient but persistent with his learning. Home-school him as much as possible. Not only will it fill the gaps left behind by the school; it will enable you to be involved in a crucial area of his life from the beginning. There’s no better bonding you can have with a child.

Keep the television off. Teach him that the television is only to be on for certain reasons at certain times (e.g. a show you have selected for him to watch with you; or, a show he really likes and you agree is a good one). When the show is over, the television turns off. Television should never be a babysitter or a replacement for human conversation/human thinking. Television belongs, at most, at the sidelines of a child’s life. It’s better to remove it altogether than to have it on most of the time, as I suspect most families do.

Lastly: Keep a journal of your child’s growth — psychological and educational growth, not only physical growth. Note in this ongoing journal not only the facts, but principles about childrearing (or at least rearing this particular child) which you learn. Discard principles you discover to be incorrect; keep in mind, throughout the day, principles which you discover to be correct. Accept that to a great extent parenting is on-the-job training, and there’s nothing wrong with this fact so long as you are focused, conscientious, and consistent about it. Forming, accepting and (as necessary) rejecting principles will help you approach the task more intelligently, and feel less overwhelmed. Enjoy!

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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