Building confidence in a child is one of the most important things a parent can do.  In the meantime, we have to make sure that we aren’t blowing smoke where there isn’t a fire.  This post is meant to help parents understand the difference.

It’s important for children to build swagger for a myriad of reasons.  Grades are likely to be higher, bullying isn’t as likely to occur, and children are more likely to be generally happy when they feel good about themselves.

Building confidence doesn’t have to be hard for parents.  The key word is BUILDING. Therefore, the process takes time. I advise parents to identify the strengths of their child, praise them for what they can do, and encourage them to improve.  That alone, over time, builds confidence.

Now, the trick to building a completely confident child is to also work on the child’s weaknesses.  With all the children I have worked with, the same rules basically apply.  Find out where the child is in area where they are weak and determine whether it’s important to build on the problem.  If so, build from where they are with heavy doses of praise when the child improves.

Determining the importance of the problem is really important.  Let’s say, for example, your child is not confident with their basketball ability.  It may be determined that the weakness isn’t that important.  If not, perhaps it is time to search for greener pastures and work on other sports/activities.  No one is good at everything and it is not a criteria of overall success.

It could be though that the weakness is important.  Perhaps the child isn’t a strong reader. This is important because if a child cannot read very well, school only gets much harder causing the child to fall further behind.  Therefore, the proper course is to see what the child can do and build from there.  Each time a new reading skill is achieved, heap him/her with praise.  Their confidence will grow with time which will make them want to catch to peers even faster.

Now, as far as blowing smoke by parents, this happens a lot.  Perhaps parents are misguided because they don’t want to make their child unhappy or perhaps they don’t know where the bar is so they are easily impressed.

Here’s an easy example to drive home the point.  Let’s say your 3 year old writes their name by themselves for the first time.  Writing is an essential skill so I would advise you to heap an enormous amount of praise for this milestone.  Contrarily, let’s pretend your 7 year old writes their name on a spelling test correctly but misses every other word. Because most 7 year old children can write their name, I am going to focus more on how to help the child improve their study skills versus heaping praise for writing their name.

In my home, I want my children’s confidence to be sky high and I’ll use praise to enhance this at every turn.  But, my children know I am not easily impressed.  I really believe this is why the 400+ children I have worked with rigorously actively sought praise from me. Simply put- they knew it was genuine.

If you’d like more ideas on building confidence, here is an excellent link I found.

I hope you have enjoyed this post.  If you liked Confidence, you’ll love my book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures. It goes into a lot more detail on hard parenting topics and gives entertaining real life examples.  Feel free to check out the reviews above and when you are ready to buy, simply click this link.

Best wishes to you and I’ll write to you again Friday!

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  1. Karina Cox says:

    Clayton, I can relate to your approach and I would agree with your principles. High praise is worth seeking and means so much more in the end. Great post!

  2. won says:

    Much of this resonates with me. This is why I've always been very keen on acknowledgement. I believe many times this is more in line with what a (this) parent's intentions were.

    Oftentimes I say to my son, for example, "hey, I noticed you brushed your teeth and got all ready tonight and wanted to acknowledge you for doing that". Because honestly he shouldn't get a whole lot of "what a fantabulous job you did!" for doing something so simple and expected at his age. It is acknowledgement that motivates him and knowing that I noticed the good….because as a child there's a keen awareness of my noticing the not so good!

  3. Sarah says:

    These are great points! Parents really do need to know where the bar is, and when lots of praise is appropriate. New follower. Thanks for linking up at Hopping Over Hump Day!

  4. A great post! Well Done and excellent advice, Hugs

  5. Jessica @FoundtheMar says:

    This is an interesting one for me b/c my son wavers from being super confident to super insecure – all subjects included.