Thinking positive and believing in oneself are much more than just feel-good concepts thrown around by psychologists looking to sell us books. Most people who achieve success in life on their own merit, at whatever goals they set for themselves, will tell you that believing in oneself, and not quitting in the face of defeat — even many defeats — are the keys to success.
When you are the parent of a child, you get the exciting, rewarding opportunity to mold a little mind from the beginning; thus, you will continue to influence the world even when you are no longer in it.
One of the biggest gifts that you can give to your child is a healthy sense of self — self-confidence that will help carry the child through the challenging or difficult situations that life will present.
And this education begins early in life.
Tending to your newborn’s needs in a prompt manner and with love will convey to your baby that she matters, and that she’s important to you.
When your baby begins saying her first words or taking her first steps, it’s not too soon to start instilling in her self-confidence by verbally praising her growing accomplishments.
When a child enters school, you have a new set of opportunities to direct your child’s sense of self in a positive direction. When your child gets a bad grade, for instance, do you reprimand her for not studying … or worse, for not being as smart or studious as another sibling?
Any situation that involves your child’s expenditure of effort, and the potential for success or failure, is a moment that you can use to teach your child to think positive, be positive and appreciate themselves. In the case of a bad grade, for instance, it would be much more useful to sit the child down, and in a soft, calm tone of voice, discuss the reasons why the bad grade may have happened. Was your child involved in too many other activities in or out of the home, so that school work was neglected? Would the child benefit from drawing up a daily schedule with your help, indicating how much time he or she is to spend on school work each day?
Your child watches how you handle adversity, and he or she will take cues from you that will likely stay with them throughout their life.
Looking for solutions to problems in a constructive manner, then, is an important strategy to teach your child.
If you exercise patience with your child and praise him or her for making an effort or for succeeding at something, not only will your child learn to be positive and examine a situation constructively, he or she will also feel more comfortable discussing problems with you. If you are quick to criticize your kid, you will accomplish the opposite result: your child may feel too intimidated or scared to talk to you about a struggle they may be going through.
Being supportive of your child and helping to guide him or her through a challenge will pay big when your child becomes a teenager. They will be less apt to run to their peers for moral support and to copy undesirable behaviors from other teens, to get their peers’ approval. If you have a loving, nurturing and supportive relationship with your child, he or she will come to you for advice more or feel more free to share what’s going on in school, with their peers or with other situations. This gives you the advantage of staying better informed about what’s happening in your child’s life, and it also gives you the opportunity to give your child advice and administer thoughtful, loving discipline, as needed.
No matter our age, we all like getting positive feedback about ourselves and the things we do, especially from people who matter to us. This strategy is useful with small children, who delight in their growing accomplishments — things that we grown-ups may take for granted, but which are big to a child just learning the basics of life. But it also works with older kids, who, deep down, will always want their parents’ praise and approval.
Don’t be focused on your child getting something right, but in the child making the effort. If they try something and fail, this can be a great time to teach the lesson that we don’t always succeed when we try, maybe not even when we try many times. But if we keep trying, we may just reach our goal.
Be there for your children when they fail at something — your son didn’t make it onto a sports team, or your daughter didn’t get an A in French, like she really wanted to get. It’s important to convey to your child that we all have talents, things that we’re good at, and that no one is expected to excel at everything. But once again, if we keep trying, we might just get there.
Be sure to praise your child when they achieve a success, such as when your daughter makes the cheerleading squad, or when your kindergartener comes home carrying something that he made for you at school. You may not be able to figure out what his gift is supposed to be — but being that you love your child, you should appreciate that he put his little heart into it. Tell him how much you love him and how you love the gift he brought you.
By Lisa Pecos