Role of the Parent 2: Building Confidence in Kids


I love this quote by Dorothy Law Nolte;

“If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn . . .
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight . . .
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel envy . . .
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty …

BUT

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative . . .
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . .
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves..
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .
If children live with recognition, they learn to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn to be generous.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . . .
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live . . .”

I am privileged to see all kinds of parenting through my work developing athletes. One thing I know for sure is that all parents try their very best. I’m a parent of 1 girl and 1 boy and I do a much better job today than I did last week. And last week I did a better job than the week before. Children are such an incredible responsibility and gift that our Creator has given us. Why then don’t they come with an instruction booklet?! The book of Proverbs gives a lot of great advice but I also believe that it’s up to us to take action by learning and growing ourselves.

All too often I watch parents come down hard on their kids for something that is very small in relation to the wrath and condemnation being handed out. While it’s very important to correct and guide our kids, it’s equally important that they feel our unconditional love and acceptance at the same time.

I have often punished my children for doing something wrong. I have spoken harshly to them and withdrawn my love from them by quitting being their mother. Yes, I’ve actually said the words, “I QUIT! … so don’t call me Mom anymore.” I can tell you that the result was disastrous. I only accomplished alienating them and sending them to their friends for help and advice. We all know what a wealth of knowledge other youngsters and teenagers can be, right! Sometimes things just erupted into a big fight and nobody won. These methods were clearly not succeeding for me. When kids feel unloved, criticized and condemned, they will struggle with self-confidence and that leads to all kinds of disastrous things such as using drugs, drinking, promiscuity, and more. Fortunately for my kids, I made changes before we got to this point.

Through reading, research, seminars and also coaching and working with your kids, I have found some great techniques to correct behavior and steer kids in a direction that they ultimately want to go. The critical element is; always show love and acceptance even when they do wrong.

What does this mean? Well, it means showing them that it’s the behavior you disapprove of, NOT the child as a person. In the beginning, children form their self-identity from their parents. As Nolte illustrates, children develop great qualities by wise and nurturing parents. As they grow older, hopefully they will transition and see their sense of love, acceptance and purpose through their relationship with God.

So what does this look like? It’s about dishing out consequences in a kind voice, without a scowl on your face. It means explaining to them with patience exactly what they have done wrong so that they can learn and change their behavior long-term. I make sure that every day I give some sort of encouragement or affirmation to show that they are loved and accepted for who they are. In short, make sure the message you are sending through your words, facial expression and body language is showing that you love them but that you are sad (not mad) that they have done wrong.

Give it a try this week and see how your kids react. I promise that over time you will see that your kids will be more confident and show more respect to you. And remember you will be a better parent next week than you are today… but you’re also a better parent today than you were last week.