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How to boost / crush a child's confidence

(28 Posts)
Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 18:37:46

Please could you help me list things that will boost / crush my DD's self confidence?

She is 3.5 yrs and is very anxious around others and has a significant stammer since we moved house a few months ago.

I want to boost her self esteem

SpaceKablooie Thu 24-Mar-16 18:43:18

No, don't crush it grin!

I try to do these:
Realistic praise when they try hard / do something well
Get them to help you to do whatever it is that you're doing
Encourage then to say Hello, Goodbye, Thank you in shops etc.
Model the above interactions
Tell them that people who are good at things had to practice a lot to become good at them
If they're going into a new situation, describe what it will be like to them

I'm interested to see what other people will say as well smile.

museumum Thu 24-Mar-16 18:47:05

I believe It's about knowing that abilities are mostly not innate. Everyone needs to practise stuff.

Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 18:50:21

This is fantastic, thank you. There are things here I hadn't considered re abilities and practise.

I also thought about giving her full attention whenever possible, looking at her when she's talking

Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 18:51:42

I guess I've been thinking about it in terms of giving her a sense of self-worth, and that her contributions matter.

antiqueroadhoe Thu 24-Mar-16 18:56:33

Tell her what behaviour makes you proud:

"I noticed you were still kind with Emma even when you lost the game - that shows you are a good sport"

"I like how you held the door open - that's a very thoughtful and kind thing to do"

"When you took those shoes upstairs that was really helpful of you."

Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 18:58:10

Maybe sharing too much information can shake a child's confidence too?

When DD was little I used to witter on about anything that was in my head to keep her company, but I feel like I should censor this much more now. I don't say anything outrageous but just simple things like talking about how I feel, or the things I need to get done could be causing anxiety

GreenTomatoJam Thu 24-Mar-16 19:03:06

I speak my feelings - but just the positive ones - 'I love you soooo much' 'I saw you share your chocolate, that was such a kind thing to do', 'thankyou for getting one for me as well', 'wow! You jumped really high', 'what a sensible girl holding my hand to cross the road' etc.

I think that just letting your joy in her show through will help - I think security and confidence can come from the unshakable belief that you have her back, and that you think she's amazing and love her to bits.

Seems to have worked for my two boys who have had a ridiculous amount of upheaval in their short lives.

SpaceKablooie Thu 24-Mar-16 19:03:23

Micro, I think there's a balance to be struck - I don't think we should be sharing all of our uncertainties and worries with our DC necessarily, but at the same time, I think it's good to let them see that we do feel upset etc at times.

I'm afraid I don't know anything about stammering - is there any help available for that? Or is it something that DC are likely to grow out of? Im sure that moving house must be pretty unsettling for DC.

Hourchange Thu 24-Mar-16 19:12:29

I'm a foster carer and the interaction with our animals has helped confidence with the children we have here. We have a huge dog, and getting children comfortable around him enough to groom him always seems to help their self esteem. Likewise with feeding horses and cats.

museumum Thu 24-Mar-16 19:13:06

Are you anxious micro?
I doubt my internal monologue would make my ds worry but I'm naturally quite upbeat and laid back so not much anxious thought.
"Let's go post a letter, ah what a nice sunny day, oh look there's a cat...' Is dull but not going to make anyone worry whereas "what if X happens, what if y..." Might do.

Thebookswereherfriends Thu 24-Mar-16 19:21:06

Tell your daughter how much you've enjoyed doing something with her.
Try and notice if she does something even a little bit out of her comfort zone and praise that.
Model how you solve problems, but something simple - for example, say you get something stuck, talk about how you can sort it out, try something that you know won't work and then be very laidback about it not working 'oh well, let's try this instead'.

antiqueroadhoe Thu 24-Mar-16 19:33:14

I don't think sharing all your worries is a good idea, but sharing the odd one, while you speak out loud about how you could confidently resolve it perhaps, would be a good idea - role models resilience

Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 19:53:30

I'm quite a worrier, yes, and I've become very conscious recently of not wanting to share this with DD. I found moving house stressful. My niece, on the other hand, is very laid back and her parents are very mellow.

The pp who said I should let my DD feel I've got her back - I really agree. She's come back from nursery with a couple of stories about kids saying things that upset her (just normal preschool talk) and she's wanted to say "I'm going to tell..." but she hasn't been sure who to tell. Mummy, or the teacher, etc.

I also have low self-esteem and am very shy. My husband wants to make sure DD doesn't end up the same confused by toughening her up! E.g. exposing her to situations she finds stressful to get her out of her comfort zone, like putting her at the top of the climbing frame, that sort of thing. I'm not sure DD trusts him completely

antiqueroadhoe Thu 24-Mar-16 19:54:45

Doing that kind of thing (climbing frame) in order to help her become resilient is a stupid idea. Really stupid.

Booboostwo Thu 24-Mar-16 19:59:20

DD is 4.5yo and tends to get anxious and worried about a lot of things. We've tried a few things that work:
- we talk about her worries and name them
- where possible we try to find solutions for the things that worry her
- we identify her characteristics, e.g. being shy, accept that it is perfectly fine t be shy and find ways she can be comfortable being shy without being, for example, rude. So if someone says hello and she is too shy to reply she can wave instead.
- we talk specifically about confidence, I ask her how high her confidence, what made it high or low, etc.
- I praise her for very specific actions
- we do a lot of role play on how to deal with difficult situations. Interestingly she likes to play herself and then she switches to the role of the other person. We also name feelings and role play them, e.g. fear might be telling her not to try something because she will fail, but confidence tells her she can do it.

Booboostwo Thu 24-Mar-16 20:02:39

X-post with your climbing frame example. Forcing her to do this sounds like a really bad idea to me. Encouraging her, helping her, finding an easier activity, trying it when there are no other children around to push her, all possibly good ideas but they all allow her to be in charge of the activity and manage her fear with the option of refusing to do it. Putting her on the frame takes matters out of her control which I don't think helps a person lacking in confidence.

strawberrybubblegum Thu 24-Mar-16 20:06:29

Children gain confidence by choosing to go up the climbing frame: being put up there when she doesn't feel ready will make her more scared!

A really good way to increase confidence is by teaching them concrete things which they can then feel competent about. Eg letting her help with cooking, filling glasses with water/milk, helping sort laundry etc.

Another thing which people often say helps confidence is doing classes like gymnastics or dance. I think that helps by making them feel strong and physically able.

Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 20:26:54

I totally agree, and I'm still trying to get DH to take a different approach

antiqueroadhoe Thu 24-Mar-16 21:42:18

Why not put him in a really potentially dangerous situation for him to "toughen up". What a dick he is.

SilverHoney Thu 24-Mar-16 21:55:18

Make your praise specific. Eg. I really liked how you... Well done for...
Set aside time for truly child led one-on-one play. Play whatever they want for 20 mins, don't try to lead / change the play no matter how mind numbingly boring it is.
Use positive language when giving an instruction. Eg please walk instead of don't run. Please use a quiet voice instead of stop shouting.
Give choices, eg. Would you like to go on the climbing frame or the swings? Accept their choice.
Give her age appropriate jobs and responsibilities. Watering plants, making her bed. Lots of praise when she attempts them.

Lots of why questions. Why did you do that? Why didn't you want to?
Taking over / doing things for her. Getting frustrated when she's taking too long. Hard I know, we've all got busy lives!
Talk about her in front of her. Eg you and DH discussing in the car while she is sitting in the back. (I'm not saying you do this, just giving an example.)
Having high standards. Re-making her bed, redoing her Easter card so it's 'better'.

Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 22:04:39

I'm so glad I asked now. This is very helpful

Excited101 Thu 24-Mar-16 22:06:11

Children will pick up cues from their adults so tackling your own behaviour first is the most important step.

It's also important to not just praise your child but to teach them how to praise themselves- what did they think they did well today, at the park, at the shop etc. Talk about self praise a lot, feeling proud of oneself, feeling pleased with own achievements etc. Self praise is totally necessary for a content and confident child AND adult.

Ask her opinion on things and value her answers but be honest.
You- 'do you think we should have chicken or fish for dinner?'
DD- 'chicken!'
You- 'I'd quite like chicken too, but we'd have to stop at the shop on the way home and it might take too long...'

Simple, calm problem solving and processing thoughts are a really good way of demonstrating so many different skills as well as showing you value your child's input and encouraging them to think for themselves and outside the box.

Praise her for effort, spontaneously. Train yourself to notice her doing things at various times and remark on them, even if it's things she does regularly. 'Thank you for coming so quickly when I called you for dinner, it really helps if we're running a bit late', 'you concentrated really well then when we were reading, I really enjoyed reading that story with you'.

Try to avoid heaping the praise on if she's doing things purely to gain praise- if you need to say something about it, flip it round so it's coming from her 'that's really nice you wanted to help your sister with your shoes, did you notice she needed help then?' It encourages self praise rather than external validation.

Excited101 Thu 24-Mar-16 22:09:23

And make sure she will listen to and accept praise! Ask her to listen, and that it's very important when you give praise if she shies away. Encourage her to join in with her own thoughts on it and encourage her to say thank you for praise. It means she'll accept some responsibility for the positive behaviour and not just brush it off.

Micromanageit Thu 24-Mar-16 23:11:15

Thank you so much for these comments. I can't express how much it's helped.
I agree with Excited, it's about looking at my behaviour as the parent.
I've made some notes from all the posts and I think I might read them every morning until it becomes second nature. It's so easy to get caught up in this hectic life and forget what's really important.

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