Have you ever noticed how some kids are so comfortable in social situations, while others are shy around strangers? Helping your child become a more confident individual has long-term benefits to his or her growth and development, and this starts from the early stages in life.

Enter Jack. Jack is a young, active boy who faces challenges with anticipation and a high spirit, who dares to try new things and pick himself up when he falls. Evidently, Jack is a confident (not over-confident!) child who has a sense of self-esteem and respect for himself as well as others. This positivity that Jack has comes from the feeling of love and security that is shown to him from a young age, enabling him to develop competence in social situations over a period of time.

It is therefore important that parents lay the groundwork for instilling confidence through a child’s early years, since these formative years are when they are the most receptive to external stimuli. Having good self-esteem would encourage your child to be brave, and to take healthy risks, laying a solid foundation for their learning and development.

Cute baby boy with black glasses and hand raised up

Sure, it’s going to take intentional effort on the part of the parents, but is definitely worth the trouble; here are several steps to take in the right direction!


Focus on Creating Positive Feelings

Babies are remarkably sensitive creatures, and possess the innate ability to capture positive or negative feelings through facial expressions and actions. Therefore, it’s essential for new parents to spend time interacting with and understanding their baby’s cues, which would help to alleviate distressing situations for her. A baby who receives enough attention is a happy baby, and they will learn to feel good about themselves. In fact, as time goes by, parents would learn to anticipate their baby’s needs, thereby forming a strong social bond with their child.

Babies don’t react like adults do to social stimuli, because they are learning from the cues in their environment, which is why parents should not underestimate their actions on their child’s growth in the early years. Give your child a cuddle, kiss, hug and a listening ear; knowing that she is loved and valued would help her develop pride in herself and self-respect.


Give them a Gentle Push

It’s important for parents to take the lead to create a learning environment for their child. In other words, parents must be the facilitators of their child’s learning. It is our innate nature to be comfortable with what we know, and to be slow to try what we don’t know. However, it is often through treading through unknown waters that we grow and develop.

For instance, encourage your child to try out swimming, or schedule her for several art lessons. Chances are, they are going to require a bit of a nudge, which is often the hardest part for a new parent. Trying to convince them with lengthy words and explanation and you might hit a wall of tantrums, so at times you may need to steel your heart and strongly encourage them to just give it a shot . These activities are beneficial to their growth and development which they may grow to enjoy, and thank you for it when they are older.

However, if your child happens to be highly averse to trying out a new activity, don’t push them too hard, or resort to using physical punishment. “This can damage the sense of security that underlies a child’s confidence, and it could make him feel unloved”, says Joan Luby, M.D., Associate Professor of child psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. A session of reasoning or a brief time-out for reflection would often serve better.


Learn to Accept your Child’s Temperaments

Children are born with inherent temperaments, which will be shaped along the course of his or her life through their social interactions. Some children are naturally more outgoing, whereas others have a more introspective and mellow personality. It is therefore important for parents to avoid making assumptions about their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and instead encourage their child to focus on developing their strengths.

As an old adage goes, “Don’t compare your progress with that of others. We all need our own time to travel our own distance.” Give your child the time, space and most importantly, support to grow into confident individuals.

 

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