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26 Feb 2024, Edition - 3149, Monday

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How to raise a friendly confident child? Hear it from the expert

Indrani Thakurata


Is your kid shy? Does your child seem less confident in public? Are you worried about your kid’s timid and nervous behaviour?

If yes, read along. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all raise friendly kids with confidence, spunk and compassion? But not all children grow alike. Some children face some hard knocks and it’s important to equip them with enough confidence to not only survive, but thrive.

Dr. Anupama Verma, Clinical Psychologist gives out some valuable parenting tips to help you help your child become a confident friendly kid:

1. Love your child:
This seems obvious, but it’s probably the most important thing you can give your child. Your child needs to feel accepted and loved, beginning with the family and extending to other groups such as friends, schoolmates and community. If you yell or ignore or make some other parenting mistake, give your child a hug and tell them you’re sorry and you love them. Unconditional love builds a strong foundation for confidence.

2. Model self-love and positive self-talk
You must love yourself before you can teach your child to love him or herself. You can model this behaviour by rewarding and praising yourself when you do well. Whether you get a promotion at work or throw a successful dinner party, celebrate your successes with your children. Talk about the skills and talents and efforts needed for you to achieve those accomplishments. In the same conversation, you can remind your child of the skills he or she possesses and how they can be developed and used.

3. Desist From Labelling Your Kid:
Labelling your child as “Shy” or “Timid” in front of others can carry a negative connotation. If your child hears the word “shy” enough times, they may start to believe that their discomfort around people is a fixed trait, not a feeling they can learn to control.

4. Assess Your Child’s Triggers:
Observe your child in almost all situations and trace out the kinds of situations that make your kid feel apprehensive. It can be while meeting someone new, joining a new school or talking on stage. Once you identify the problem, it becomes much easier for you to approach your child in a non-confrontational way. Practice with your child and teach how to tackle the situations that makes him/her feel uncomfortable.

5. Introduce Your Child To New People And Situations Slowly:
If your kid feels anxious in new environments and around new people, don’t expect them to jump into the action and chat with other children right away at a social gathering. If possible, arrive early so your child can get comfortable in that space and feel like other people are entering a space they already “own”. Another option is to have your child stand back at a comfortable distance near you, where they feel safe and simply watch the event for a few minutes. Quietly observing will help them process things. If arriving early or observing isn’t possible, discuss the event ahead of time with your child, talking about who will be there, what will likely happen, how they might feel, and what they could say to start a conversation.

6. Coach relationship skills
Healthy relationship coaching is the key to your child’s self-confidence and the nature they develop growing up. As your child’s social circle expands, you should help them see how their actions affect others and help them learn to maintain strength when someone else’s actions affect them. As a parent, it’s not your role to “fix” every situation, but rather to teach your child the compassion, kindness, self-assertiveness and, yes, confidence to handle the ups and downs of relationships.

7. Support Your Child To Handle Things On Their Own:
Timidity in children often keeps them from doing certain things or makes them dependent on others especially moms to do their tasks. If your kid feels nervous about asking something to a teacher or relative, encourage the kid to do it on their own instead of you doing it for them. This makes your child to interact with people and talk to them. Although it will be inconvenient for them in the beginning however will enhance confidence and develop social skills that the kid needs as they grow.

8. Teach Your Child To Stand Up For Themselves:
Teach the kids to say “STOP” or “NO” in a loud voice when another child tries to snatch their toy. If they are being bullied or treated unfairly at school, encourage them to speak up to an adult or the teacher. It starts with teaching children that their voice is important.

9. Make Sure Your Child Feels ‘HEARD’:
Listen to your child, and ask questions to draw them out. Many children struggle with feeling ‘unheard’ by others. Ask your child regularly how they feel when you take them to a gathering or when they speak in public and try resolving their conflict accordingly.

10. Let Your Child Make Decisions:
When your child gets the chance to make choices from a young age, he’ll gain confidence in his own good judgment. Of course, kids love to run the show, but having too much control can be overwhelming. It’s best to give your child two or three options to choose from. For example, don’t ask your 3 year old what he wants for lunch, but offer pasta or peanut butter and bread. At the same time, let your child know certain choices are up to you.

11. Praise Your Child When Praise is Due:
It’s important to give your child praise and positive feedback because children, especially young ones, measure their worth and achievements by what you think. But be realistic in your praise. If a child fails at something, praise the effort. Reassure your child that it’s OK not to be able to do everything perfectly. Tell him that some things take repeated effort and practice and sometimes it’s OK to move on after you’ve given your best effort. Let them know you admire what they did. Say something like, “Yesterday, I saw you talking to that new boy. I know that was hard for you, but I’m proud of what you did.”

12. Set rules and be consistent:
Children are more confident when they know who is in charge and what to expect. Even if your child thinks your rules are too strict, they will have confidence in what they can and can’t do when you set rules and enforce them consistently. Every household will have different rules, and they will change over time based on your child’s age. Whatever your household rules, be clear on what is important in your family. Learning and following rules gives children a sense of security and confidence. Someday when your child is feeling peer pressure, he or she may appreciate having the foundation and confidence to say, “No, I can’t do that.”

13. Encourage sports or other physical activities
Sports and other physical activities help children learn social skills and build confidence in many ways. They learn that they can practice, improve and achieve goals. Other benefits: they learn to recognize their strengths, accept or strengthen their weaknesses, handle defeat, expand their circle of friends and learn teamwork. Another confidence-boosting bonus: they stay fit and learn to respect their bodies. If your child doesn’t pursue organized sports, try to find a physical activity that he or she enjoys, whether it’s dance, martial arts, biking or hiking.

14. Do Not Take It Personally When Your Child Needs Time:
Anything that pulls your child out of their inner world like socializing or navigating a new routine will drain them sometimes. Don’t be hurt or think your child will not grow into a confident individual. Give it time and efforts.

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