A feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.
Self-esteem and healthy confidence is your child’s ticket to a lifetime of social, emotional, and mental happiness. A child’s ability to manage stress, increase motivation, and feel confident has a lot to do with instilling positive communication habits early in life. When children struggle to communicate to their parents, teachers, and peers, their confidence in themselves can diminish. This lack of confidence is not only seen in their speaking abilities, but also in their education, social interaction, and literacy development.
Here are our top 5 positive communication habits to instill in your children to build self-confidence and fulfillment:
- PRAISE SPECIFICALLY- Children are so accustomed to hearing “good job!” without really understanding specifically what actions they they took to have done a good job. Be specific in your choice of words when praising your child. For example, if your child picks out his clothes and dresses himself, you say “I like your choice of blue” or “I’m really proud of you for getting dressed all by yourself. You didn’t need ANY help from mommy today!” Remember to praise your child’s efforts, not just his results.
- BODY LANGUAGE AND TONE OF VOICE: Effective communication does not only involve words. In fact, research shows that simply using words in a message (without the tone and body language) represents only 7% of the message. Your tone of voice accounts for 38% while non-verbal body language accounts for 55%. Some ways in which you can use your body language to communicate effectively and positively are as follows:
- a. Maintain eye contact while you and your child are speaking to one another. This shows you are listening and giving your undivided attention.
- b. Use a gentle tone of voice- There is an actual term for using a specific tone of voice when increasing your child’s speech & language skills—it is called “mother-ese.” www.encyclopedia.com defines this as “simplified grammar, exaggerated speech melody, diminutive forms of words such as doggie, and a highly repetitive style.” There is also a tendency to expand or comment on what the child has just said.” For example, if a child says “blocks down,” a mother can expand his sentence by saying “Yes, the blocks fell down.”
- c. Get down on their level- By squatting down and speaking on your child’s level, you are non-verbally demonstrating a mutual connection that will allow your child to pay more attention, listen better, and engage in the conversation.
- LISTEN- Taking the time to listen to your child will not only make him feel like he’s being heard, but also that you are validating his thoughts, feelings, and expressive self. Your child also sees you as his role model, so by being a good listener, your child develops this skill. Our personal and professional schedules leave us busy or distracted, however, your child may think his message is not important enough to be heard — this can decrease his self-confidence. One way to actively listen is to sit and have a conversation with your child. Encourage your child to express his opinions, ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings without over-reacting or criticizing.
- ENCOURAGE PROBLEM SOLVING- In her book “Raising a Thinking Child,” Myrna Shure, PhD, states, “Kids are confident when they’re able to negotiate getting what they want.” If a child experiences a problem and talks to you about it, facilitate his problem solving skills by asking questions that will lead your child to his own solution. For example, if your child says “Jacob grabbed my book!” don’t intervene with a solution immediately. Pause and wait. Ask your child open-ended questions to facilitate thinking and conversation. Encourage them to think in new and different ways. Some suggested questions to ask would be:
- Can you think of a nice way to get it back from him?
- What could you do to help make Jacob happy?
- What do you think would work for next time?
- What could you do instead of fighting with him?
- ENCOURAGE PLAY- Play is your child’s “work” and is essential to development, as it allows opportunities for your child to grow mentally, socially, intellectually, and emotionally. Pretend play allows your child to have fun while also learning about patience, problem solving, social skills, and creativity. Some suggested activities for you and your child are:
- Play Kid-Like Games- Simon Says, Follow the Leader, and Hide and Seek are amongst the most popular child-friendly games. Games like these allow for a child to develop skills needed for following directions, listening comprehension, memory, and social skills.
- Arts & Crafts- Building a craft project together is a fun way to learn about “sequencing”. Sequencing is a skill we use when we break down an event into simple steps and putting those steps in order. For example, baking cookies requires a step-by-step process. Cutting and pasting also requires a similar process. Using the words “First,” “Next,” and “Last” allows your child to understand there is an order of ‘beginning, middle, and end’ on how to do things. When baking or cooking, you could say, “First, we will mix the ingredients together. Next, we will roll the dough into little balls. Last, we will bake the cookies in the oven”.
- Read a Book Together- Read a book that interests your child, even if it’s the same one he wants to read over and over again. Ask your child questions about the story such as “what’s your favorite part about the story?” or “why do you think the animal felt this way?” Ask your child to change the story, or make a new one up.
These 5 steps will help build your child’s confidence and guide them toward a more fulfilling academic and social life.