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"How Can I Build My Child's Confidence And Self Esteem?"

Raising confident children is important to every parent, but how do you do it?

Having a child who speaks up, is courageous, and is confident in themselves is important to any parent, however sometimes our children don’t seem to have that natural “boost” that others have.

Whether you think your child is too empathetic, kind, and sort of a pushover or whether you think they have low self-esteem, you want one thing:

A more confident child.

But the question is, how?

Especially in a world that seems to be leading more and more children to be living indoors and on digital screens?

Inside this short article, I will break down a few simple things you can begin doing today that will help your child develop high self-esteem and have the courage to live the life they want.

But first, let’s answer a simple question.

What Does It Mean To Be Confident?

Being confident can mean different things to many people as it is a subjective experience, but regardless of the various ways it can be described, the common factor is a sense of conviction and assurance in oneself to the point where one is able to express themselves fully and make decisions without personality inhibitions.

It feels like a deep sense of trust and certainty in yourself and a certain outcome, an unwavering state of faith.

Who wouldn’t want that for their child, right?

Where Does Confidence Come From?

As you watch your child play around with other kids, you may notice they are much timider and to themselves than other kids are.

Making it seem that some kids are just born confident, and some aren’t.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

All of us were born confident and with high self-esteem.

Have you ever seen a baby feel too insecure to be giggly and loud?

Have you ever seen a one or two-year-old who was too ashamed of themselves to cry?

Have you ever seen a three-year-old that was too scared to ask “why” one hundred times in a row?

If you were to simply watch a child (especially before age five) you will see that there is a natural and unforced level of confidence and sense of security present within all of them.

Where is this coming from? This comes from a feeling of being safe enough to do so.

Children typically feel very safe in expressing themselves because they don’t have preconceived ideas that make them feel insecure.

Let me share with you a short story to demonstrate what I mean.

How Little Kids Lose Their Confidence

There was this young boy who grew up and always felt really scared being around other people.

He’d get super nervous to do anything that would require him to socialize with others, especially those he didn’t know.

And one day, when he was three when he was woken up in the middle of the night by his mom to take him and his brother to his grandmother's house.

His parents had been fighting but he wasn’t aware of that.

Once he arrived at his grandmother's, his mother laid them on the couch and she went into the back room with his grandma and aunt.

Laying there he noticed headlights shine through the window, which caused him to get up and walk up to the front window to see who it was.

As he looked through the window he noticed his father's truck pulling down the driveway.

Quickly he got excited and ran up to the door to open the door for his dad, but when he did that his mother, aunt and grandmother had come running out of the back room.

His aunt walked out of the front door and began yelling and shouting curse words at his father.

Confused, the little boy sat there and watched everything begin to unfold.

His mother was crying, his grandma and aunt were yelling, and then he looked out of the window and noticed his dad fall to his knees and screaming, or should I say begging, for his mother to not leave him.

At that moment he realized his parents were separating, which was a complete shock to him.

All he could do was scream and cry at the top of his lungs because of how confused he was.

It was at this very moment that this young boy said to himself four words that would change his personality for years to come: “I am not safe.”

It was from this point that this young boy grew up timid, shy, and afraid of being around others because he had a story running in the back of his head: “I am not safe.”

The Only Way To Rebuild Confidence

I share the story above to demonstrate one simple thing:

Confidence comes from safety.

I know this story so well because that little boy was me.

This was a memory that showed up during a hypnotherapy session to help me find the root cause behind why I was insecure in social settings.

I would be so anxious to be in social settings that I’d make up all kinds of lies to avoid ever having to be in them.

As an entrepreneur, there was no way I could continue like this so I hired a hypnotherapist to help me overcome the problem.

The session was designed to take me back to memories to find the root cause and change my association with it so I can overcome the problem for good.

And the memory I went back to was the memory I just shared above.

It was at that moment that I lost the confidence I had in myself to be around other people and feel like I belonged.

I decided to believe that I wasn’t safe, which led me to feel unsafe in my nervous system which is why I would constantly get anxious.

This belief, or idea that I wasn’t safe is what caused the insecurities.

And this is the case for anybody who is insecure.

They have some belief or idea in their mind that makes them feel unsafe.

Ideas like:

“I am not good enough.”

“I am a burden.”

“I am not important.”

“I am too different.”

“I am not loved.”

These are all ideas that cause someone to feel “unsafe” in their nervous system -- which causes them to inhibit their personality and act “insecure.”

Do you see how this works?

The idea of insecurity causes the feeling of it, which leads to insecure behaviors.

And that is where confidence truly comes from, it comes from the idea of safety which leads to the feeling of it, and when somebody feels safe in their nervous system they have no inhibitions that impede their expression.

When you feel safe in your nervous system, confidence is a natural result.

When you don’t feel safe, insecurity is a natural result.

7 Things You Can Do To Raise Confident Children

What can you do starting today to begin helping your child live a life free from the heavy weight of anxiety? Below are the foundational ways to ensure your child’s mind and body feel happier, calmer, and freer.

1. Be Vocal With Your Admiration For Them

Don’t hide the fact that you love them for them.

Don’t hold in the compliments.

You love and adore your child, be sure you tell them that and be expressive with your words that they are loved, safe, and cared for no matter what.

Children are pretty suggestible, meaning they tend to more easily accept people’s suggestions about them as true and therefore they act out on it.

If you tell them that they’re stupid, they’ll likely believe it and eventually start acting out on it.

On the other hand, if you frequently tell them that they are loved, worthy, smart, and important then they will accept those as true. How much of a difference do you think that would make a child's life?

Also, communicate to them that they are safe to be themselves.

Let them know that they are loved and good enough just as they are without placing conditions on it.

2. Focus On Their Strengths

As your children age, you become pretty aware of their personality strengths and unique abilities or talents.

It is very important that you focus on these and allow the possibility of your child to explore their curiosity about those things.

For example, if you notice you have a kid who loves to draw and paint, encourage them to draw and paint more.

When they are actively doing it, give them encouraging comments like, “Oh wow, you’re so good at that!” or “You are a really good artist, you know?”

These kinds of things allow the child to feel valued and have an increased sense of self-worth.

Then buy them more things to paint and paint with, put them in art classes (if they genuinely want to) and do things that allow your child to express that strength.

3. Give Them Praise (But Don’t Overdo It)

Show and tell your children that you are proud of them.

Remember, confident children feel valued, so sharing your price is important.

However, refrain from giving what I call “hollow praise.”

For example, if your kid didn’t perform well during a basketball game, telling them “You did amazing!” can oftentimes feel fake and hollow to them, reinforcing any self-criticism.

Instead say something like, “You showed up today and put in the effort, a lot of people don’t even have what it takes to do that. So I am proud of you.”

And be sure that you praise effort and not the result of what that effort got them.

This creates a feeling of conditional love, in which the child feels they are only celebrated or loved when they accomplish something.

4.) Make Room For Independence

No matter how good the intention may be, holding your kid's hand through everything only furthers any insecurities the child may have.

The smallest accomplishments can lead to such surges in confidence for children.

For example, let them pick their clothes and dress (no matter how crazy they look.)

Let them tie their own shoes, clean their own messes, read on their own initiative, and anything that lets them think for themselves.

Drop them off at baseball practice and watch them walk up to the team on their own.

Have them order their own food.

Give them responsibilities and let them do them without micromanaging them.

Give them every opportunity you can to be independent and once again, think for themselves.

5. Normalize Failure And Mistakes

Many children are too afraid to make mistakes which can cause enough fear to stop them from really doing anything.

This happens because their brains associate danger or pain with making a mistake because sometime in their past they either experienced or witnessed somebody being punished for making a mistake.

School is notorious for nurturing this fear of failure, so it's important that as a parent you do your part in making sure your children understand making mistakes is a good thing and nothing to be feared.

So when they feel let down because they didn’t achieve something the way they wanted to, be sure you remind them that their worth is not attached to any result.

Encourage them to experiment with new things constantly and fail fast, forward and use it as a source of growth.

This also comes down to praising perseverance and the process of getting up and getting after it over and over again, even in the face of failure.

6. Set Measurable Goals

Another effective way to build confidence in children is to allow them the opportunity to set goals and achieve them.

We all know the rush of positive emotion we feel when we accomplish a goal, right?

You feel good about yourself and this then deepens a belief in your ability to accomplish things.

Set goals with your child, and let them set them.

Start small and guide them on accomplishing them, but let them take the lead.

Help them accomplish smaller things that give them the feeling that they can also accomplish bigger things.

7. Model Confident & Courageous Behavior Yourself

Something that was too important to leave off the list is modeling confidence yourself.

Mirror neurons cause us to model those around us, which is how every child learns their first behaviors and mental models.

They observe their environment and learn directly from the person who is caring for them and those that they spend a lot of time with.

If a child sees their parents timid, shy and too scared to go after what they want then the child learns that too.

On the other end, if a child watches their parents express and model confident behavior, the child will learn that.

How To Help Your Child(ren) Feel Safe In Their Nervous Systems

Remember, confidence comes from safety.

Not just the idea of safety, but the feeling of safety.

When a child feels safe in their nervous system they will naturally be more expressive, courageous, and confident.

Therefore helping your child cultivate a safe and healthy nervous system is the most important factor in raising confident children.

So I took an excerpt from my other blog post, “How Do I Get Rid Of My Child’s Anxiety Naturally?” that shares a few mental and emotional exercises you can use to help your child do to create a feeling of safety in their minds and bodies.

Here they are below:

1.) Heart Breathing

Heart breathing is a process of conscious breathing designed to reduce the intensity of a stress reaction and establish a calm, but alert state.

It was developed and brought to awareness by Heartmath.

As they write in this article, “Heart-focused breathing is about directing your attention to the heart area and breathing a little more deeply than normal.As you breathe in, imagine you are doing so through your heart, and, as you breathe out, imagine it is through your heart.”

It has many benefits and is a great practice anybody can do whenever you feel your stress buttons being pushed, but regularly even when you are feeling great.

It's super simple and your child will be able to pick right up on it.

Here’s a short two-minute video breaking down how to do it.

2.) Mind-Shift Technique

Ever taken a nice long breath and felt relaxed after? Specifically after a nice long exhale?

We all know how great this feels.

And it's actually an ancient Vedanta breath-work exercise.

Here is a simple breath-work technique as explained by Rajshree Patel in her amazing book, The Power of Vital Force.“As you take a deep breath in through your nose, pause briefly when you reach the full capacity of your inhale.

After reaching the full capacity of your inhale, take a few more little sips of extra air in.

Pause and hold it all in for a moment before releasing fully through the nose.

Even two or three repetitions can instantly clear the mind and re-energize the system.”

3.) Using Skin To Come Back To The Body

One of the most common experiences someone has with anxiety is “feeling out of the body.”

Therefore coming “back” to the body, into the sensations of it, can have a positive impact on the calmness you feel.

Teach your children to touch the exposed parts of their body when they are feeling anxious (or not) to normalize coming back into their body when they are feeling too “In their head.”

Have them touch their hands, wrists, arms, ankles, legs, face, neck, and whatever else they can.

Then they can pay attention to the sensations of the close on their skin, hair on their body, and temperature or wind on their skin

This will help them feel their way back to a coherent state.

4.) Creative Visualization

Have you ever seen a photo or picture that stirred up a strong emotional response?

That’s because we are symbolic human beings by nature and our minds respond to images.

Images create emotional experiences, and you can teach your child how to deliberately create images in their minds that cause pleasant emotional experiences.

For example, creating a “mental safe place.”

Have your child visualize themselves walking into an environment that makes them feel safe and let them create it.

They may visualize themselves walking in a nice green field with pillow-like grass and butterflies, flowers, and rainbows with a nice stream of water nearby.

Or maybe they visualize themselves sitting in a nice “Meditation room” with a calming environment and artwork.

Another good visual exercise is having them imagine steam leaving the top of their head releasing pressure.

One more that is worth sharing is having them visualize their feelings as little babies or pets that they have to take care of, so when the feelings come they approach them with grace and acceptance.

Merely thinking of the people that make them feel safe is more than sufficient.

5.) Body Scans

Like number three on this list, coming back to your body is a great way to ground yourself.

Have your child sit down in a relaxed position on a chair with their eyes closed and then direct them to focus on their feet asking them to notice the sensations of their feet on the floor.

Then they move their awareness up their ankles, legs, thighs, hips, and all the way up to the top of their head.

When they feel tension, have them take a deep breath imagining that the tension itself is releasing with each exhale.

Here is a three-minute body scan meditation for kids.

6.) Self-Regulating Physical Touch

Again, using the body to our benefit, a good way to process the feelings of anxiety and feel them is to ground yourself physically.

According to Healthline, hugging yourself has been proven to lower cortisol levels in the body.

Humans thrive when they feel connected and safe, so teaching your kids to hug themselves more often, will create that feeling of connection and safety that can calm the nervous system down.

You can also grab or squeeze different parts of your body slightly, helping you ground yourself.

7.) Releasing Emotions Through Physical Exercises

As we know by now, stored emotions can build up over time and cause a lot of anxiety.

Therefore releasing them from your tissues is essential, and thankfully there are a few exercises that can help you do this.

David Bercelli, Ph. D. created the Trauma Release Process®, which is a set of physical exercises that when done naturally release accumulated trauma through the body.

A great daily exercise that almost all children can do.

Click here to watch a video on how to do it.

In Conclusion

Confidence is simply a feeling of safety that is inherently natural for everybody on the planet.

Cultivating this deep feeling of safety in your child’s nervous system is the ultimate way to build confidence, courage and high self esteem in your child(ren.)

In this article I shared with you exactly how you can do that.

If you would like help implementing these tools and exercises then click here to learn how Zamio partners with parents to help children cultivate thriving nervous systems, growth mindsets and confidence.

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