Kids seem to be born confident creatures.
They have no problem expressing their needs (sometimes, quite loudly).
They’re secure in their appearance (hello, polka dots and stripes).
They make it clear when they don’t like something (baby boundaries in full effect).
Quite simply, they believe they can do anything and that the world is theirs.
Then, something happens. Perhaps, it’s life and its inherent disappointments that slowly siphons away their confidence. Maybe it’s us well-intentioned parents who strip their belief in themselves when we’re overly critical. Maybe it’s a combination of things. Whatever the cause, there are some telltale signs your kid is losing confidence. See if you can spot any of these signs in your kids, and if you do, here’s what you can do about it:
They’re doubting themselves. Some self-doubt is normal, but when your kid consistently uses the phrase, “I can’t . . .” then something is up. The phrase “I can’t” is either vocalized or it shows itself in action—maybe your kid isn’t trying out for choir when you and your showerhead know they love to sing or maybe they quit something way too early and it’s uncharacteristic of them.
When your kid is doubting themselves, it’s important for you, their biggest influence, to remind them that they can do hard things.
They become overly critical. One day, you have a kid who seeks pride in their outfit choices or who walks into a room speaking with conviction and in absolutes. The next day, you have a kid who stops themselves before they even start, coming up with reasons why their decisions or ideas aren’t so great. As their parents, we have to be careful with how we talk to our kids—in our effort to help them grow into awesome adults, sometimes our advice and wisdom can come across as judgement and that our kids are doing something wrong.
When your kid is being overly critical of themselves, remind them that they are wonderful the way they are and mistakes help them learn.
They compare themselves to others more often. Research shows comparing ourselves to others can start as early as second and third grade. Have you seen this to be true with your kid? Are they constantly pointing out how someone else is doing something better than they are?
When your kid constantly contrasts their life against someone else’s, remind them of who they really are and what they’re capable of.
They become focused on winning everyone’s approval. When your kid is intent on winning someone over, that usually means they aren’t trusting in their self-worth. Instead, they’re externalizing their confidence, letting someone else set the bar for how they feel about themselves. People pleasing, as you likely know all too well, has very little reward and often leads to greater discontentment.
If you notice your kid is intent on keeping up appearances, remind them that who they are is enough and what matters most is how they see themselves and how God sees them.
It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about confidence and what it means to believe what God says is true about them. Check out the children’s devotional, Press Play, at pressplaybook.com to help your kids build confidence that lasts.