I need advice on how to build confidence in my child. He often complains that he doesn’t have friends in school and feels like he doesn’t fit in
You are not alone. A lot of parents feel huge concern over what they see as their child’s lack of self-confidence which comes in the way of them being able to interact, mix and make friends freely. Here are 5 tips to help you and your child.
- Parenting is a modeling job. One of the ways children learn social interaction skills is through observing their own parents. You want to check what you are modeling?
A good place to start is to focus on your child’s strength and beam your torch of encouragement on it. Is your child a great listener? A hard worker? Smart dude? Cool dresser? Funny? You want to say good words about those to him. When children hear good words about their ability, it makes them feel good about themselves. When they feel good about themselves, they develop a healthy self-concept. A healthy self-esteem rises from there and this in turn builds their confidence.
Typically as Naija parents, we are hard-wired to focus on what our children don’t do well. We never see when they wash after themselves or dress our bed or keep their things neatly away or help in setting the table or commit to their learning or got the dinner done quicker when they helped. We assume these are given. However, the moment they don’t do something right, those are the moments we make count for our attention.
Do something different. Catch your child do well. Even in the midst of the badly written essay, see the well-formed letter ‘o’. In the midst of the not so good result, see the commitment he put in. Encouragements like these make children to be repeat performers in the area we have beamed our focus. Constantly hearing encouraging words make them channel their energy in the direction of our focus. They will get the results and this will make them feel good about themselves. This builds their confidence. When they feel good in themselves, it will come more naturally to reach out and make friends with others.
- Encourage children to practice and develop their skills and interests in their free time. Whether it’s in sports, art, animal care, drama etc. Having hobbies will give you things to talk about with other people, which can help you feel less shy. Being good at something will also help you develop strong self-esteem. Hobbies also give children a reason to get involved in clubs or groups, which is a good way to meet new friends.
Another way to develop hobbies and meet similar people is to start groups. Do you like chess, for example, but there isn’t a place to play at school? Maybe you could start a chess club after school before pick-up.
- If your child is shy, you don’t need to turn him into a different person to make friends. Help him embrace his real personality, whether reserved, goofy, or caring. Being genuine will help him make friends who appreciate his true self, shyness and all.
Being himself doesn’t mean refusing to work on his negative traits. It just means owning and appreciating what makes him unique. It also means that he doesn’t need to compare himself with others. He can model the belief and traits he likes in others through observation, asking questions and changing his belief pattern.
- Visualization helps you practice navigating different social scenarios before you actually encounter them. Positive visualization and self-talk can help your child to feel less nervous about getting out and meeting new people. Help him to imagine his encounters going well, and talk to himself in an encouraging way- even if he messes up occasionally. For instance, before he goes over to introduce himself to someone, teach him to tell himself, “I bet this person is friendly,” instead of, “I’m always awkward when I introduce myself to someone new.”
- Rethink how you view rejection. Everybody gets rejected now and then, no matter how comfortable they are talking to people. If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong, so don’t let a few bad encounters discourage you from trying to make friends.
For example, if someone isn’t open to talk to you, they might just be busy or worried about their home life. They could even be feeling shy too!
If you find yourself stewing over a rejection, make yourself think about a positive encounter you had instead and use that as an anchor to create the positive state you want.
So now that you know how to boost your child’s confidence, you are well on the way to prepare him to make new friends.
Have any personal parenting issues you want to share. Shoot me a message: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I would love to help.