This post is about how to “be” with your child throughout the school year to support the development of their self-confidence.
Emotions are contagious so you want to get your own feelings taken care of …take the time to reflect on your own school experiences and your “just get through it years” if you had them.
Get clear about whether your child is having feelings similar to the feelings you had as a child or whether they’re having distinctly different feelings.
Here comes the hard part, be resolute about not projecting your negative feelings about your experience of school onto your child.
Family stress will be greatly reduced if you can show empathy for your child’s fears, concerns, excitement, or physical agitation while not projecting onto them any of your own attitudes or feelings about your own school experiences whether they were dismal or glorious, shameful or stellar.
From pre-school to going away to college, our children will most often take their cues from us, we influence our children by our positive or negative attitudes and our positive or negative emotional states. It makes all the difference whether we are fearful and concerned or excited and supportive about their academic pursuits & extracurricular activities.
I remember my smart son, home for the summer after bombing in his first semester at community college feeling embarrassed & disappointed about himself.
First I empathized with him about how things can go very wrong sometimes when away from home for the first time. I then said to him, “you just need to get yourself into one activity where you are winning in the game of life.” This was said in my deep conviction voice, my ‘I’m not messing around voice’ reserved for setbacks like the one he was facing.
I’ll never forget the look of hope on his face due to my belief in him contrary to his recent mess up. He took a self-paced algebra course that summer & got an A and he has kept up the momentum. He’s currently a senior at UC Santa Barbara on schedule to graduate next year.
Whatever the year, you can step into the practice of building your child’s Self-Trust and Self-Confidence, a great emotional intelligence building skill that will help them succeed at school and in life.
Notice that I’m not talking about self-esteem here. I suspect we all know of a self-absorbed, selfish and joyless child that is infused with a destructive sense of self-esteem that is harmful to himself and others. “I’m better than the rest of you,…I don’t have to because….I want it now and I deserve to have it now…” you get the picture.
One of the most effective parenting skills to possess is your ability to empower your child with self-trust & self-confidence for her/his entire life.
Your child will have a much better chance of ending up with a “self” that has dominion over their life, their choices, their emotions and their interactions with others.
What I mean by this is that your child will have more mastery over responding to life’s problems in a way that is sourced by their true self.
They won’t be reduced to saying, “I can never do that I’m too afraid” or “It was my teacher’s fault and that stupid girl who sits next to me.” Fear and a lack of self-trust live behind declarations like these.
We all want to practice empowering our children to have self-trust and self-confidence because it feels good when we do.
But we do have to take that critical leap of faith in our own emotional makeup and make a choice to believe in them even though we may have evidence to the contrary that they will be able to handle “it, whatever it is.”
How do we build self-trust and self-confidence in our children?
HAVE SOME VERSION OF THIS BE YOUR “PARENTAL INSTRUCTION” (FOR THE PURPOSE OF THEM HAVING SELF-TRUST):
“YOU CAN DO IT, I KNOW YOU WILL WHEN YOU ARE READY AND IF YOU NEED OR WANT ANYTHING TO GET YOU READY, JUST LET ME KNOW…I BELIEVE IN YOU AND YOU CAN TRUST YOURSELF TO HANDLE THIS, EVENTUALLY, JUST AS SOON AS YOU ARE WILLING AND ABLE.”
TO MAKE IT COME ALIVE:
Make sure to point out a specific way or two in which your child is already exhibiting some self-trust or self-confidence that paves the way for more.
Children will always develop self-trust & self-confidence in a certain area, eventually, if they really really want to…this is known as “readiness.” The way we say it is “ready, willing & soon to be able.” Notice this readiness happened in your own life as you were attaining life skills.
To assess or “create” readiness:
– first discover what they want
– then invite and endorse and coax
– make affirmations and prophecies that they will indeed handle it
– follow their lead and empower them where and when they will let you
Trying to make them handle “it” before they’re ready will just bring up fear in them & put them into fight, flight or freeze mode. Cease banging your head against the wall & trust them…. & yourself. You want to capitalize on what is inherently intelligent about your child’s emotional makeup, their strengths and uniquenesses.
The good news is that essentially kids are learning sponges and intrepid explorers, soaking up new skills and concepts daily and fearlessly.
To wrap it up:
So remember to champion the concept of readiness in your family to build your child’s self-trust & self-confidence.
To create readiness, remember to discover what they want, affirm that they will indeed handle it & follow their lead & empower them where & when they will let you.
Written by Jill Valenti & Lonnie Green