October is Anti-Bullying Awareness Month!

Happiness. Healthy habits. Success.

Yes, we all want these qualities in our children. But do you know the underlying trick to get there? It is building their confidence! While insult and injury are, unfortunately, part of life and can be quite crippling, a kid with healthy self-confidence is more likely to be resilient and independent instead of following a group. A confident child will be less vulnerable to emotional problems, to harming himself or maybe even attempting.  Kids who are confident know their strengths and weaknesses, and they can learn from other people rather than feel threatened by them.

 

Here are 7 simple ways you can teach your child to be a confident and kind person. It might be a small start — teaching kids to be independent thinkers and respectful of others — but one that can hopefully have a positive impact on all of us because confident kids are less likely to bully or be bullied, and they are more likely to befriend those who are bullied.

1. Model Acceptance

It is ok and healthy to have your own opinion, but when you demean and bad-mouth a certain group of people – by what they look like, how much money they or don’t have, their sexual orientation – then “…you are simply preaching hate to your kid,” says Dr. Robi Ludwig, Psy.D, a Care.com parenting expert. Even something about an intelligence level or outfit choice can stick with a child. A confident child, on the other hand, is more likely to feel compassion for others and not belittle those who are different from them.

Still, your kid might worry that if he or she stands up for a classmate when kids are talking nasty, he or she might be the next victim. So tell your child that instead of intervening, they should report the behavior to a teacher and then ask the student to play with him. “Confident children don’t necessarily tell off bullies, but they choose to include the underdog,” says Dr. Evans.

2. Teach Good Manners

It might seem old fashioned, but it is still important to know how to properly address a person, shake hands or even set a table. In fact, manners can give your child a kick start to building self-confidence. “Having good manners helps you feel good about yourself because you know how to treat others with respect and carry yourself in the world,” says etiquette expert Lisa Richey. “It helps a child to develop the qualities of a leader” and it works on good posture. In addition to making a child feel confident, it provides a visual clue to all of the other kids that he or she is confident. Another trick? Eye contact! It’s the basis of a self-confident child, says Richey. To start, put aside your smartphone and give your daughter or son your undivided attention. Being fully present is key to good manners. And remember, kids are watching and listening to you. Say, “Thank you” to the checkout lady at the supermarket, shake hands when you meet someone. Each time you practice good manners make sure you your child understands that this is how we treat and respect people.

3. Set Kids up to Succeed

Instead of pushing your kid to try activities you have selected because you think it will make a well-rounded child, play to a child’s natural abilities, her or his hard work and success because that fosters confidence. “When a child excels in an activity outside school he will go back to school with the confidence to know it’s okay if he doesn’t fit into the school blueprint of success,” says Richey.

4. Give Genuine Compliments

It’s time to drop meaningless flattery. Kids don’t buy it. “When parents give praise that is not accurate to who the child really is, the words seem fake,” says Dr. Ludwig. Don’t say your daughter or son is a wonderful tennis player if she or he is not. Instead, get specific with your accolades. “Tell her you are proud that she works hard at always improving her game and how she takes direction from her coach,” says Dr. Evans. You are not only giving her/him a genuine compliment that reinforces her/his confidence, but you are sharing your values: persistence and respect!

 5. Help them Trust Themselves

Parents often want to make life easy for their kids. This is just natural because we want to protect them, but it is not healthy to always forge the path for them. In fact, constantly running to the rescue could send the message to your child that he or she is not a capable person. Part of building confidence is learning how to cope with all types of situations. “Don’t jump to problem solving, just listen,” says Dr. Evans. And when they make a choice that goes awry, help them review the outcome and figure out why it was a mistake. Otherwise kids remain dependent on you and not confident in their own decision making. “Kids need your unconditional love,” she says. They need to understand that making mistakes is human, and that they are nevertheless a good person and that you always love them! So allow your toddler to choose her/his own clothes in the morning. She might go off to the playground in a flower-print skirt and rainbow sweater, but she will feel confident in her choice.

6. Assign Household Jobs

The trick is to think about your child’s strengths and interests and bestow a job that allows him/her to feel useful and successful. “When a child accomplishes something he or she feels confident,” says Dr. Ludwig. An eye for organizing? Ask her to help unpack the groceries or sort the pantry. Fascinated by cars? Ask for help cleaning the interior. Make sure to point out why you asked your child to handle this responsibility – because he’s so tidy or a nature lover or is adventurous with food – even if it’s a strength you don’t possess.

7. Open Your Home to Friends

Here’s how to get a pulse on other influences on your child’s confidence. “You are not the only person influencing his self confidence but you are the most powerful,” says Dr. Ludwig. “You must build the foundation of their self confidence but peers, teachers, the media, and more will influence them.” You shouldn’t spy, but having kids feel comfy in your home will allow you to see if your child is choosing friends that support his or her identity. If you see a friend engaging a rude behavior (maybe texting constantly or saying nasty things about a teacher), use it as a lesson on how not to behave. 

So let’s boost our kid’s confidence and prevent bullying!

Saturday, 5 October 2013 2:59 PM

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