Trying to teach your kid to become their own superhero?
What not to say…
Don’t be scared / Just try it / I will be so proud of you / You will have so much fun
If these don’t work, what are some helpful ways to improve your child’s confidence?!
Looking back, each of these phrases has had a cozy place in pep talks to my child, and I think it’s safe to say I’m not alone. Every parent wants their child to succeed and have the confidence to go after their dreams. We don’t want them to miss out or feel like they’re not good enough because WE know how amazing they are. It makes us want to crawl out of our skin when we see our child feeling intimidated or hesitating to do something WE KNOW they will love if they just TRY it.
How do we break these well-meaning but not so helpful parental patterns of denying valid emotions while not feeding into them?
Step One: Meet your kiddo where they are. Remember when you felt that way? Share with them! Give them space to feel the emotions they are feeling. The trick is to not let those emotions hold them back from achieving their goals. There are countless professional athletes and performers that have been able to channel their formerly anxious beating heart before a performance to a life force that propels them to pursue their passion. An essential step ti improve your child’s confidence is recognizing their emptions as normal and totally okay.
Step Two: Prepare with Mental Rehearsal! What will it feel like to go after that goal? Let’s say they want to try out for the soccer team. Imagine they just finished try-outs and are drinking an ice cold sports drink. The sun is warming their skin. What do their legs feel like? Can they feel the steady thump of their heart? Most importantly, how do they FEEL now that they have tried out for the team?
Encourage the experience not the result. It’s not making the team that matters most, it’s believing in ourselves and having the confidence to go after anything we want that will be our most helpful companion throughout life. This will help kids build resilience to keep trying even if their first attempt doesn’t go as planned.
A helpful conversation starter: What is your head telling you? What is your heart telling you? Generally anxiety, self-doubt, and limiting beliefs come from our head, but we can feel our passions and what inspires us in our heart. Help your kiddo be mindful to check-in with their heart whenever they are feeling less than confident.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Want to know more about how you can hand your child their own superhero cape and tackle any obstacles that get in their way?
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Stephanie Cantu holds a master’s degree in Education and is the Founder of Happy Spots by Empowered Minds, an active mindfulness and recovery program for youth. At Happy Spots, we are about creating our own joy and inspiration no matter what is happening in our environment, and helping kids do the same.