The growth and development of a child can be likened to planting a delicate flower. With the correct care, nurturing and watering, a beautiful blossom can develop. Conversely, negative messages, unfavorable comparisons or simple neglect can stunt their ability to attain their full potential.
A strong and resilient child’s confidence is based on self-belief and the path to achieving that goal is not simply by praising them. Providing children with a solid foundation of love and security whilst creating an environment which fosters their dreams and ambitions, is a good place to begin.
Feeling safe to explore and risk
This is vitally important, especially for children who have shown remarkable or unusual gifts in a specific field of study or learning. Original thinkers often find it difficult to make a connection with other children particularly in an education system not geared for it.
Satisfying the special needs of children who show exceptional abilities through gifted and talented programs can give them a place where they fit in and an environment to grow and flourish.
Whilst not all children can be considered ‘gifted’, each one has exceptional qualities which they can contribute to society. We grow through both our successes and our failures, so let children fail but be there for them and guide them to learn from the experience without blame or criticism.
Empowering a child doesn’t mean leaving them to their own resources. Every child needs boundaries to define what they can and can’t do. By blurring those lines as parents you can confuse a child and undermine their ability to grow, learn and achieve.
Boundaries which may be set and adhered to are:
- A set standard of manners
- Privacy rules around parents personal space
- Maintaining parental rules within the household
- A moral code of conduct
When questioned about spending time with their parents, children stated they would rather opt for quality over quantity. To them time equates to love so to gain self-worth and confidence in themselves, they need to believe you value their company and it is not a chore.
For those parents who are time poor, try to integrate the time you spend together by having them help you with a task or fixing something around the house. You may be surprised at how eager they are to assist.
Praise for genuine achievement
Understanding how and when to praise children can make a huge impact on their self-esteem but it can be a balancing act. Many parents who have undervalued themselves as children have gone too far in the other direction. Overpraising can be just as damaging as under praising, for a variety of reasons.
Guidelines could be:
- Make praise genuine
- Make it special. If it is saved for exceptional effort it will be more valuable to the receiver
- Concentrate on praising the effort rather than the outcome
Building a firm base
Encourage children to connect with the family nucleus by enjoying regular family rituals together. Involve them in the wider community, cultural activities and encourage their connection with older relatives and extended family. This grounding instills an understanding they are part of the bigger picture – working for a common good.
Last, but definitely not least, is the conviction they are loved unconditionally. This doesn’t necessarily mean constantly saying the words. Rather, showing them in simple ways such as a smile, arm around their shoulder, taking an interest in their hobbies and friends or simply listening to them talk or vent about their day.
The rewards of having confident, secure children has wide-reaching benefits to the family unit and society as a whole. Give children a strong basis to grow from and furnish them with the right tools and they may just surprise and delight you with what they are able to accomplish.