Here’s One Secret to Raising Self-Confident Children

Last week I got an email from a reader, Toshy, asking me if my Talking to Toddlers course specifically helps develop self confidence in three year olds.

You could probably substitute any age in that question and it would still be a very good question. I answered Toshy personally, and I also feel that my answer should be shared here because it will help a lot of parents.

What causes Self Confidence in Children

Self confidence comes from being willing to fail. It comes from willing to fall down and get back up again. It comes from knowing that things won’t go perfectly every time. It comes from expecting mistakes and taking action to correct them. It comes from being a problem solver rather than learned helplessness (expecting someone else to fix your problems).

One way that parents can establish this trait in their kids is to give them to freedom to make mistakes. Allow them to fail. And when they do, congratulate them on learning something new.

If your child wants to pour his own milk, let him. Perhaps stand beside him with a cloth, ready to catch any big mess. Or put the milk in a smaller container first, so it’s manageable.

If your child wants to get his own shoes on (but you’re in a rush), slow down and start a bit earlier. Let him struggle to try. It’s the only way he’ll learn.

If you see your child doing something that you KNOW isn’t going to result in success, let him make his own mistakes. Unless it will result in a trip to the hospital, of course. Safety first .. but I’ll allow my child to get a few bumps or bruises if it means learning to be independent.

And last, but not least, limit the use of the word “no”. It’s one thing to say no to a bedtime snack. But it’s a totally different thing to say no to picking that flower in the park, or walking outside without shoes on, or not letting your child choose her own clothes. You might think a jacket is required because of the temperature. If you let her figure it out for herself, she’ll get cold and know better next time.

Confident kids are kids who learn early on how to make their own decisions, and solve their own minor problems.

My course, Talking to Toddlers, deals with this by teaching you, the parent, more effective ways to communicate. Remember my course is for parents, not kids. It doesn’t teach your kids to be confident. YOU do. My tools certainly help you accomplish this.

For further reading, you might want to check out Help: My Spouse and I Have Different Parenting Styles and A Story to Get Past a Sibling Fight.

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15 Responses to Here’s One Secret to Raising Self-Confident Children

  1. Oksana S May 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    To be a parent is way more then I expected. Thank you very much for sharing the answer.

  2. Shumeaz Madden May 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Excellent advise. Very insightful as always.

  3. Shumeaz Madden May 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Excellent advise. Very insightful as always. Parenting doesn’t come with a instruction manuel so it’s nice to get these tips to keep me on the right track. Thank you

  4. pam May 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    hi chris that a fair email.can i ask u something can u help me with feeding problems and sleep pattern pattern my wee girl is 3 yr old and im having problems

    • Chris Thompson May 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      Send in an email with as much detail as possible. If I can help at all, I’ll write a reply for the blog so everyone can benefit. I’ll keep personal details out of it, naturally. Just fist names.

  5. Mandi Louw May 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Wonderfull advise…. definately working as I speak from experience.
    Thank you Chris for all the advise on raising children… I learned a lot from your course and the blogs.

  6. Katina's mom...dianne May 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Hi Chris…I am eagerly awaiting your CDs I ordered as I am so computer illiterate, my generation, that I can never find anything I download. We need help…my grandson is a three, four in August, and a little red head that pretty much runs the show. I told Katina that we needed to schedule Nanny 911 as we are creating a monster. But what an adorable monster. I seriously spoke with him the other day as to when he was going to join the big people and go in the toilet instead of diapers. He seriously considered this…turned his chubby little hands to the air and said “I don’t know, nana…I am just not ready.” Help.

    • Chris Thompson May 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Hi Dianne – I trust your CD order arrived! I understand, lots of people prefer real CDs to the MP3 download so I eventually created physically shipped CDs as an option for those who want it.

      Adorable monster … I love the phrase. We call our girls the little angels. And they become the little devils at times :) Always adorable, sometimes with major challenges. The tools that I’ve learned have really helped me stay sane as a parent. I sincerely believe they’ll do the same for you.

  7. Melanie David May 7, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Its not so much that I let my daughter (2 and a half) do everything herself, its that she insists! Hopefully this will mean she will turn out to be a super confident adult. Thanks for the course Chris, I am slowing getting through it and find it is helping me tremendously. I have 4 children 15,13, 4 and 2,5 and it helps with all of them.

    • Chris Thompson May 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Melanie – I’m thrilled to hear that my course is a tremendous help to you. This is the kind of feedback that puts a smile on my face :)

      Remember the course is short enough that you can re-listen again and again, even just one or two lessons per week to solidify your knowledge. Keep working at it, and use the ideas I teach to build up your own toolbox of techniques that work in your family.

      Just by doing some of these things, we are all miles ahead of other parents who don’t even bother to think about how things could be better.

  8. Iva Schwarz May 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Dear Chris,
    I am a mother of two beautiful kids (7,5 year William & 4,5 year Anna).
    I can only agree to all that however in the daily life it is not easy to always follow. My son especially, with his attitude ‘first-doing’ prior to ‘first-thinking’ teaches me a big time to be patient.

    Thank you for all your articles & work.
    Best, Iva Schwarz

  9. Jim C May 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    I like your way of developing confidence. So often I just hear people who think that its all about praising children for their successes (even those that aren’t) You method will develop competence along with confidence, making it real, not just an ego booster.

    • Chris Thompson May 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Hi Jim – yeah, I think the idea of praise is misunderstood by people. And I still make this mistake sometimes, BTW. Praise like, “Wow, great job Johnny” just trains people to need the approval of others. It doesn’t recognize the work, it only recognizes the outcome.

      My older daughter recently made HUGE strides in reading. She’s the youngest in her grade so she’s always been the slower to read kid in school. We worked on developing an interest in it. Then when she found a series of books she LOVED to read, she literally tore through 30 chapter books in a few weeks. Instead of telling her I’m proud of her learning to read, I told her I was really impressed with the effort that she put into learning to read and that she can now feel proud of herself for getting to the point where she can REALLY ENJOY reading.

      The whole “trick” is to have her look back at the work she did and appreciate it herself, and enjoy the outcome. Feel proud of the work, enjoy the outcome.

  10. Joy May 9, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    Chris, I just wanted to send you a quick note telling you how much I appreicate your insight and you’re willingness to share it with us. My husband and I have different parently styles, I’m more prone to letting my son Evan go outside without shoes, jump of the 4th stair down to the landing etc., my husband is much more conservative – SO I forwarded him your blog. Finger’s crossed he starts allowing Evan a bit more freedom. Thanks again!

  11. Andrea Waterhouse May 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I completely agree with everything you’ve said there, I once heard Susan Jeffers Author of “Feel the Fear and do it anyway” say that she had never heard anyone say to their children “go out there and take some risks today!”, it was always no, stop it, get down from there, don’t do that etc I really took that on board and have tried to do the “do some thing every day that scares you” (just a little bit) and my little boy of two and a half is VERY confident, communicative and happy (most of the time, he is 2 and sometimes the word isn’t very fair when you’re 2:-)

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