Contributed by guest author Elise Ryan.
Sometimes, we adults look back on our childhood with nostalgia, reflecting longingly on “simpler times full of innocence.” However, let’s not forget, being a child can be tough! This is the phase in which we’re first starting to establish who we are as individuals and how we establish our place in the world. Self-doubt and insecurities can become overwhelming, especially when kids compare themselves to their peers. As both a parent and an educator, there are activities you can introduce your youngsters to that will bolster their confidence and sense of self.
One of the best ways to build self-esteem in a child is to encourage him or her to participate in sports. You’ll find plenty of classes and teams available through your community or rec center, or even your church! Yes, your little one will feel a swell of pride as (s)he scores the winning point, but team athletics are about so much more than simply winning or losing. It will help your child bond with others as they collectively work to accomplish a common goal. Furthermore, as your youngsters practices dribbling the basketball or swimming laps, they’ll be able to witness their own capabilities expand and grow; if you teach them to be proud of their own progress and not to negatively compare themselves to others, and they’ll be instilled with a positive attitude that will serve them well in other arenas of their life.
If your children are not athletic or have no interest in sports, you can get them involved in the creative arts. Not only will getting involved in playing an instrument provide them with the ability to grow and conquer new challenges, but you’ll provide them with a creative outlet for emotions. After all, we all have our bad days; instead of having those feelings bottled up to eat them up inside, children that have a way to healthily express their anger or sadness will have an easier time letting this negativity go.
Purchasing an instrument worth thousands of dollars may be a bit presumptuous if your family is just beginning to learn the basics. Consider either renting the items or purchasing affordable alternatives that can gauge your little one’s interest levels before making an investment. Keyboards and musical recorders, like the ones found here, will help introduce novices to essential concepts like reading notes, keeping rhythm and more. Plus, with the availability of manuals and affordable teachers geared specifically towards the instruments, you don’t have to worry yourself with becoming an expert teacher at teaching something difficult like the cello!
What do Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé have in common? Yes, they are both musicians, fashion designers and overall superstars, but they also were incredibly shy as children. Surprised? They both credited performing with helping them break out of their shell and gain confidence in themselves. Your children may not climb to the same level of celebrity as these two singers/actors, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t reap the same benefit by hopping on stage. This experience will encourage kids to get in touch with their silly side and will teach them valuable skills like projecting their voice and overcoming the fear of public speaking.
Your Role as a Parent
We love our children and, when we see they are nervous or down on ourselves, our natural instinct may be to swoop in and save the day. This isn’t what is best when it comes to helping our children build confidence in themselves. By solving all of their problems on their behalf, you may be depriving your children of the opportunity to learn how truly capable they are. Instead, be their biggest cheerleader; tell them that you believe in them and that they are wonderful regardless of whether they “miss the net” when kicking the soccer ball; encourage them to face their fears in order to have new adventures; and praise their valiant effort, regardless of the outcome.
Confidence building begins when children are very young, as they learn new skills such as tying their shoes or counting to 10. Allow them to struggle and persist on their own until they master them, and their confidence will only grow for new challenges in the future.