When asked, many parents say they want their children to be confident. But what does confidence even mean? And how can you nurture this trait in them?
This is part 1 of this special episode where I share 9 principles for raising confident children. Don't forget to subscribe and get the next part as soon as it comes out.
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Ep. 67 (Part 1) - 9 Ways for Raising Confident Children
[00:00:00] In this episode of the apparently parent podcast, we're going to talk about nine ways for you to employ right now in order to nurture confidence in your children. So stay tuned.
All right, ladies and gentlemen, wonderful parents from around the globe. Welcome to episode number 67 of the apparently parent podcast. I'm very happy that you are here with me today. I took a little break because the recent months we were very busy with the summer vacation, and then some quarantines because of COVID and now I don't want to say that we are out of the woods yet because you know, I don't know. Things are, and not able to be foretold anymore. But we can have some air, which means I can have some time to record new podcast episodes for you guys.
And today we are going to talk about something that is very important. Eh for me, and because I believe that confidence is one of the best personality traits that we can develop in our lifetime. And I think I'm saying that as the person who is not very confident or I as a child, I, wasn't very confident about many things that I've done in spite [00:02:00] of voices telling me. And I'm not talking about my inner voices, I'm talking about external voices. People telling me that I am. I am successful and I'm smart and all that, I was I was offered to go to a gifted track. I was told that I'm doing a good job and there was always this voice telling me that it's not enough. And to be honest, at forty years old, this voice is still there sometimes. But I'm I'm getting to know it and befriend it and to also shut it away when needed as much as possible. But. It started. A thought process in me of trying to figure out how I can, as, as a parent of two children. help them. Gain the confidence that I didn't have, or kindle their own confident vibes
that they have, eh, In a society that sometimes conflates confidence too much in, in children in sometimes kind of trashes it way. So. This is what we're going to talk about today.
Now, before we rushing into the episode. To let you know that while recording it, I've noticed that it's going to be very long. It came actually on a little bit more than an hour. So I decided to break it down into two episodes. So this is actually part one and next week, you're going to get part two of the nine ways of raising confident children. Now let's go.
And. Let's start with asking ourselves what is confidence anyway. Right. So I looked it up. I went into the Miriam Webster's dictionary because that's what we do when we don't know what a word means.
And I copied the definition for you guys. So here goes. Merriam Webster's dictionary defines confidence as one, a feeling or consciousness of one's powers [00:04:00] or of reliance on one's circumstances.
Or a faith or belief that one will act.
In a right. Proper or effective way.
Two, they define confidence as the quality or state of being certain. And three, this is very interesting, confidence is defined as a relation of trust or intimacy or our reliance on another's discretion. Now there are different ways to answer what confidence means. And you can see, for example, the last part talks about how you can confide in others because you trust them. You have this level of intimacy with them.
And the first part of the definition talks about how you feel or believe that you can do things in a quote unquote, the right proper or effective way, or you have. belief or F or you feel you have power to rely on your own circumstances and to act in a right way. And I find it very interesting because we, you can notice how feeling is at the top. So confidence is feeling it's something that you can feel. And I think that's why as a kid a lot of the time I didn't didn't feel confident, even though I was told I should be confident. I am good enough. I am smart enough. and et cetera. And I just didn't feel it. You know, there's these disparity between your mind and your gut, what your mind is telling you, you what you may know to be true, but what your gut is telling you.
So I didn't feel that. So we're going to talk about how you can nurture that feeling. And that feeling is also embodied in our relationship of trust. And, you know, is there a better relationship of trust between that between a child and his or her parents? I think not, I think even [00:06:00] in the most beautiful close friendships or romantic partnerships,
it's never the same as a child with his or her own mom or dad or moms or dads or whatever that child is having as an attachment figure. Right. Because,we bring children into this world. And you know, if you, if you are someone like me, If you care about positive parenting, if you care about making your children achieve their best selves,
as possible if you are what I call the 21st century parents.
Then you, you, you care about creating this connection, relationship of trust. You want your child to be able to trust you no matter what. Even if they broke the heirloom vase that your family have been keeping for hundreds of years.
You want them to trust you. You know, And even if, even if, you know there's something that I see a lot recently in my office, in my private practice as a psychologist. Are young men who are dealing with their own issues about coming out. And incidentally, I'm recording this episode,
in the national coming out day in the US but any, I mean, to do that. Anyway, you know, when someone decides to come out as gay to their families, to their friends, whatever. There's a lot of trust that needs to be. around, you know, in order for them to do that. And, and to feel confident about, you know, showing the world who they really are, what they feel, et cetera. So it's very interesting to see that confidence is a mixture of, of a feeling and a belief. Okay. A feeling is something you feel in your body. It's the emotion.A belief it's something that you think, and in those.
It was also it's embedded in a relationship. And I think parenting is the best of places to nurture that. And I wanted to go a little bit deeper and broader into what confidence really means. And,
dictionary definition is a nice place to start, but there's [00:08:00] also the subjective experience of confidence. So I've asked parents on social media, what confidence means to them? And here are some of the answers that I got. Confidence means the willingness to be wrong. Confidence means the ability to stand your ground.
It means being assertive. I really liked one of the answers, which goes it means being calm when making demands. Confidence means being able to compromise without feeling that you've lost. It means being able to explore. It means being able to do things without needing the parent. And it means knowing when to ask for help.
And, you know, Do you agree with those? I do. And by the way, if you have your own other definition, share it with me, find me on the Instagrams I'm at @apparentlyparent, and let me know what confidence means to you. And I've found it very interesting to see how, how parents define confidence as an ability to be wrong and stand your ground. It's like confidence has two, two legs. It's an ability to stick to what you know to be true to what you believe, what you want, but also, and a willingness to be wrong and ask for help when needed.
And that helped me kind of create my own definition for confidence. And I see confidence as being able to explore, and let yourself face the risk of getting hurt. Okay, let me repeat that. I am looking at confidence as being able to explore, and we got to talk about what that means in a second.
And also letting yourself face the risk of getting hurt, being vulnerable. Okay, so what do we mean by exploration? Okay. No. Being confident doesn't necessarily mean jumping off a plane and, you know, free in some free diving kind of thing or, or going into, into, Mount Everest and trying to crime that, that [00:10:00] doesn't necessarily
the definition of exploration. Exploration. simply means being open to whatever may come. And getting a little adventurous, not shying away, not running away from an experience. And an experience can be something in the external world, like doing something, some kind of action. So again, not necessarily going on some
higher risk cruise or something like that. It can also mean going on a stage and talking in front of everybody. For example, standing in front of your class as a child and giving a presentation about something that you find interesting. Or creating a podcast, not in your native language. So that's one example of the external world, but exploration is also eminent in the internal world of your thoughts and your feelings and that's super important.
A lot of my work as a psychologist is embedded in helping people open up into their internal world. The world of their thoughts and feelings without running away from them without doing stuff to to shy away or to minimize or to dismiss, or to deny their thoughts and feelings.
Things like drinking, smoking weed, playing a lot of games and online you know, without control, et cetera, et cetera. When you open up to your full experience, your thoughts and your feelings and your willing. You're open to accepting those. This is what I mean by exploring your internal world. You don't have to believe
everything you think. You know, you don't have to agree with every blurb your mind is spurting at you. But you open up to that. This is what exploration means. So being confident means you have to be open to explore your own internal world and the external world to your liking.
And from the attachment theory, we know, exploration is one of the hallmarks of being securely attached, which means, [00:12:00] as a child is feeling that they have a secure base, someone they can go back to and get the support they need. They can go out and explore the world. This is what being securely attached means.
So now that we know what it means to be confident in you, you may agree or not agree, agree with these types of definitions, but, you know, create your own definition of what confidence means to you. I think you will see how these suggestions that I'm going to share with you in a second apply anyway, because it all boils down to the same concepts of wanting to do something and doing that, and, and dealing with the pain and the hurts and the obstacles along the way.
So let's talk about nine things that you can do in order to help your children, deal with obstacles and go back on the horse when they fall, if you want another metaphor and nurture the confidence in them.
So the first thing I want you to consider is how can you encourage their efforts, and not the end goal. Okay. You know, there's this saying about how the proof of the pudding is actually in the making of the pudding? So think about the goals. Think about the goals you set for yourself. You know, every month, year, whatever.
Goals are great. So maybe you want to run a marathon. That's nice. But the effort is more important because. This is a topic for another episode, actually, but, goals are something you can achieve. So what happens after you run the marathon now, now, and let's say that you run the marathon because you want to be healthy.
Okay. You want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. So now that you've run the marathon, are you done with being healthy? No. Okay. You can continue for next marathon. You can decide that you don't want to do this shenanigan ever again, but you will continue exercising in different ways [00:14:00] because it all goes under the umbrella of, of something that you want to embody, which is being healthy.
So achieving goals is great, but you have to focus on the effort and it's more important than the actual goal itself, because let's say you go out for a run five times a week, but you don't complete the marathon, that you wanted to, did you fail? No, because yeah, you didn't achieve that goal, but you did go out for a run five times a week. That's more than most people around you. Right. So the effort is super important. And it's super important for kids. That you show them that you focus on the effort and not the goal.
Let's take another example from the children's world. Let's say that, you your child, your daughter, your son, whatever, want to get a role in the school play. And there are auditions and they try out. Now let's say they didn't get it.
You may feel disappointed for them. Right. But, you know, think about saying something like this and how will it making them feel: "Hey, hon, you know, I know you really wanted to get that role and ah, I'm so sorry that you didn't, I can see how, how frustrated you are. But I want you to know that I am so proud of you even trying and going for the audition that it's not an easy thing to do. And a lot of people want to do that and they don't. And for me, that's what matters the most.
Even if you didn't get the role, the fact that you did that. It's amazing."
And I know there's this culture and criticism about giving out trophies for participation. I'm not necessarily talking about that. It may sound like that. And I don't think that participation trophies are a good idea.
But we are encouraging them in trying out what they want to achieve, even if they didn't get it. So if even if they didn't [00:16:00] get the role in the play, the job they wanted to apply to, whatever. And if, if you only focus on the end goal, It's going to be hard for them to, to take the steps. Okay. Think about your child as a baby or a toddler learning to walk. You encourage them for every little misstep along the way. Even if they fall down. You don't wait for them to be able to walk across the room and then you clap your hands. Right? So it's the same thing. Sometimes as our children grow up, yes, our expectations are higher, but we forget to do that thing that we so naturally do when they are so little, which is encouraging every little thing they do along the way.
Now, the second thing that I want to talk about is how to encourage practice. It's kind of the same thing, but, on a different angle. Our culture sometimes focuses on achieving greatness. You know, this phrase practice makes perfect. Now I want to say that practice doesn't make perfect. We don't care for perfect. Practice makes whatever it makes. We want to focus on the practice. Because if we shoot for perfect, we are setting our children up for failure.
Because no one, no one is perfect. And I know what you may think right now. My child is perfect here. Your child is the most beautiful thing in the world. But they're not perfect. My children are not perfect. I'm not perfect. I don't want him to be perfect. I would be very afraid if they would think that they are perfect.
Perfect doesn't exist. Not in parenting, not in the human experience. Maybe you can find a perfect ice cream flavor, but humans are never perfect. And that is good because perfect, is actually a denial of the blemishes. And of the not good enough. And of the marks and we all have those. We all have [00:18:00] those, even, you know, the model with the most perfect skin around, has blemishes. So if we shoot for perfect, we're setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment and frustration. So encourage them practicing and practicing means not giving up when something is hard or not just right.
It means getting on the horse. Okay. Even if things are not really, really perfect. So for example, I sometimes work with children or adults who are afraid of different things. They have some kind of phobia and one of the ways to treat that is to expose themselves to that thing that scares them. For example, an elevator.
So let's say that we, we set up some schedule of practicing, going into an elevator. So it starts with, getting close to the elevator, maybe standing inside the elevator without closing the doors. Then the next step would be Let the doors close, wait for, uh, 10 seconds open doors and go out.
Then the next step would be to go up one level, et cetera, et cetera, and all the time working with your fear and regulating your body. Now, what would happen if we start by saying you only succeed, if you go up to the 10th floor. Yeah. Well, what happens if you know, the child is able to walk to the elevator stand next to it, even stand inside without closing the doors. But, they feel like they cannot go to the next level of letting the doors close down. Would I label them as a failure? No, I will label them as someone who is practicing and doing their best effort.
And, and by doing that, I would help them feel more confident about their effort, about the journey, because everything is a journey you can get from point a to point B in an instant, in a snap of your fingers. We don't do that. Okay. We take a journey. And practice is part of the journey.
Now. Let's move on to the [00:20:00] third point, the third tip, the third concept. If you will,
which, which I labeled be around to help, but wait. So I want you to think about that, you know, the term helicopter parenting, helicopter parents are parents who hover around their children, trying to fix everything for them, do things, for them instead of the children and all that. And we know from research, that's very bad for confidence of those children growing up, because you can see children who feel like their parents are around fixing everything, and then they get to college, or maybe here in Israel to the army first, and then they are completely lost. Because now mom and dad are not there to help.
They are just not there to help in mom and dad. Cannot be there all the time. So if you're a mom or a dad, who's trying to be there all the time, and fix things for your children and help them do things, and, and, you know, pave the way to be as smooth as possible, you're actually doing a disservice to your child. Because there's going to be a time in their lives that you're not going to be there in that.
That thing is gonna get there a lot quicker than anything I'm not talking about when you will be dead. And talking about when they will move out, go to college, go to the army, go to whatever they do when they grow up that. There's going to be a time that you're not going to be there for them.
And if you don't nurture their autonomy and confidence now, expect them to fall apart at that point. So be around to help, but wait. Be around. Don't don't let them figure everything for their own. And of course that's age dependent. Right? But let them try and fail trial and error, trial and error. Let them do the error. Let them do the trials.
Don't rush to fix and correct them. Homework is a very good. exercise ground for that. If you see your child doing homework, and they're struggling with multiplication and, you know, they ask you hey mom, what is two times five. [00:22:00] Yeah, it's easiest to tell them 10, right? What would happen if you won't what would happen if you tell them? Well, honey, It's your homework. So maybe try to figure it out, check the multiplication table that you have in the back of the book, for example, or whatever. Okay.
And, and, and, but, but tell them that you are around don't dismiss them. If you can't figure out I will help you at the end, but let's see what you can do in order to figure it out. So be around. Be around to help.
Being around means that they feel that they have this, what I call the secure base, somewhere somewhere to fall to. Okay. Or it's sometimes also called a safe Haven. Be around to help. But wait, wait. All right.
Now let's move to the fourth, suggestion that I have. Show them and talk with them about how they don't need everybody's love.
Now, what do I mean by that? You know how little children, if they grow up in a loving family, like yours, They are used to have the love and the support of most people who are around them. Mom dad, grandma and grandpa. You know, with siblings, there's love and hate relationship. But, aunts, uncles, kindergarten teachers, school teachers.
The little children are used to live in this world that is full of love and support. Even when the things are rough or, or bad. But as they grow up they will find out that there are some people who don't like them. Some people are indifferent towards them. Some people really don't like them.
Now it's very natural to want to be liked. And children might do things in order to be liked by other children. And it might hurt them. And, you know, I'm sure that, you know, a story. About some child who brought candies to school in order to be liked, for example. And maybe you're that kid. It reminds me of something that happened to me when I [00:24:00] was a kid. And I'm not sure that I remember the story correctly because.
You know, in hindsight it seems very weird that it happened. But I was a very smart kid and I was very good at math. And my memory is that I was kind of the teacher's aid in basic algebra of that age and. I have this memory of her letting me check exams. I am laughing because it's so weird because if it's true. And I really liked the teacher and I really appreciate it. To this day and then, but it's so weird to give a six or maybe seven years old child that responsibility. It seems so weird for me that maybe I'm really misremembering it. But anyway, I have this memory of, of my friends around me. And they're like encouraging me to give them a higher grade. Now that story may be completely a false memory of mine. I don't know. I need to check this out, but you can see what I mean about doing things that can hurt you in order to be liked. Right. I also remember sometimes I got cookies in my, in my lunch bag and I would hand them out to kids that I wanted and they were my friends. Okay. But maybe I wasn't sure about, I wasn't confident enough about my value as a friend and it's very natural, unfortunately, to do that because they want to be liked because if we are not liked by the group, it means we may be rejected by that group and in our ancient prehistoric brain
rejection from the group means death. Okay, so we, no one wants to be rejected. So if we know that we can notice that when it happens with our children and we have to let them know that they don't have to do anything in order to gain everybody's love because they don't need to get everybody's love and they won't get everybody's love. So how can you help them figure it out?
With time , you will see [00:26:00] that there are instances in which they will have friends or what they call friends, that don't like them or that mistreat them. Okay. And they will sometimes do loops in the air in order to be liked by those children. Quote unquote friends. So this is where you can step in and have a chat about that.
You don't have to tell them stop hanging out with Josh because Josh is a douchbag, right? Don't do that. But talk about it. You know, I notice that, you know, in the playground, Josh, sometimes pushes you around a little bit and you trying to be so nice to him. Why do you think that is.
Opening up for conversation and then you can tailor in how you think that no one can like everybody. No one can be liked by everybody. And that's okay. No, no. And not everybody's supposed to let you. But, you know, you will always have my love. And your mom or your dad's love. Et cetera, et cetera. You will always have those who like you and love you around you, right?
And you can also share stories like I just shared with you, with your children. It's a wonderful way to model these moments in your life and how you grew up from them and learn to maybe give up some of that notion that I supposed to be like all the time.
So that was about how they don't have to be loved all the time.
All right now, as I've said, at the beginning of this episode, I promised you in nine ways for raising confident children however, I noticed it was getting very, very long. So I decided to break it down into two parts. So that was part one.
And next week on Thursday, I'm going to publish part two. So of course stay tuned for that. Just for a quick recap of what we talked about today, we talked about what the meaning of confident is exploring the world, you, the inner world and the external world, while also being able to be vulnerable.
And I suggested nine principles [00:28:00] out of which we already discussed four so those were encouraging the effort and not the end goal. Helping you choose when to practice because practice doesn't make perfect. Just give up on perfect. Just practice. Be around to help, but wait, don't rush to help and also show them and teach them that they don't need to get everybody's love.
Now next week, we are going to talk about the five other principles. So I hope you will stay tuned for that. If you are not subscribed yet to this show do so on whichever platform you like to listen to your podcasts on, and I will see you again next week. And until then have a wonderful parenting journey.
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The Apparently Parent Podcast
On this show, I share with you my perspectives and experience of parenting and psychology.
Enhance your understanding of the relationship with your child and yourself by learning about attachment, mindful and playful parenting mindset and techniques.
Listen to me sharing my knowledge and experience both as a parent and a therapist, as well as interviews with parenting experts from around the world.
Your Host – Eran Katz
I’m a clinical psychologist and parenting counselor specializing in attachment theory. I’m also the father of two children who are my best parenting teachers.
I believe that parenting is one of the most important jobs we ever do. This is why I created Apparently Parent and The Parenting MAP. My goal in life is to help as many parents as possible become 21st Century Parents, moving from chaos to harmony and building an enduring, meaningful relationship with their children.