Alyson Schafer, psychotherapist, parenting expert and author of the best-selling Breaking the Good Mom Myth (Wiley, 2006) shares her tips for raising a confident child.
1. Practice acceptance
Not all kids are going to be the life of the party. Every child is different. "Think about the fact that some kids are introverted and some are not. There is room on the planet for both," she says. If your child has only one friend, this doesn't necessarily mean he or she is lacking confidence. "If they have one friend, you know they are capable of making friends," Schafer says. This is just their style of friendship. Some kids pal around with the entire soccer team, while others choose one person they feel close to. Schafer also advises against comparing your child's social behaviour to your own. Just because you have many friends and an active social calendar doesn't mean your child will be the same way.
2. Encourage rather than praise
Praising your children for an achievement, such as receiving an 'A' on a test or scoring a soccer goal, sounds like a good idea, but not so says Schafer. "You are still judging even when judging favourably," she explains. When you praise your child, he or she is only being evaluated on the end product, not the effort put in to get there. In some cases, children can become afraid of losing their parent's love if the next time they don't score a goal or get an 'A', even if they put in the same amount of effort. It's not about the grade or the goal – if your child gave something their all, take notice, Schafer says. "When you speak to effort, you can encourage anyone at any age." Emphasize effort and improvement as a way to show your child you are noticing everything they do.