“Please help me – my child is so shy and doesn’t seem to have any confidence. I’m so worried that she won’t get on in life!”
I get calls like this every week from worried parents explaining that their child doesn’t seem resilient, confident, or is too shy to push themselves forward. Lockdown and covid have a lot to answer for! Children are more lacking in confidence now than ever before. Anxiety about everything is coming to the fore. Separation anxiety, social phobia, OCD, panic attacks, depression (yes, a 5 year-old can be depressed!) and I could go on and on…..I fear it is going to be a very long road back to where we were before covid.
Right from birth, children learn new skills at an alarming rate. Along with those new abilities, they also get the confidence to use them. However, as children develop, that confidence and resilience can be just as important as the skills themselves! To thrive, children need to be able to trust in their own strengths, in what they are capable of but also knowing that if they were not successful at something – they could handle it. It’s from rebounding from failure, that they develop healthy self -confidence and resilience.
One of the things I find interesting when a mum brings a child to my clinic and tells me the child is anxious/lacks confident/un-resilient is that I can sense almost immediately HER OWN anxiety. Mums and dads need to model self-confidence themselves. Your child needs to see you tackling things with confidence and optimism – it sets a really good example for them. You can still acknowledge your own anxiety but don’t focus on it. For example, you could say something like “I’m a bit concerned that I’m not doing this quite right but let’s read the instructions and see if we can do it!” Do you see what I mean? Giving your child a “ growth mindset” so that they will always TRY even though they may not always get it perfect!
Here are some tips that may be useful to help your child be more confident:
- Mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and the important thing is to learn from them, so tell your child not to dwell on them. People who are confident don’t let little mistakes or the fear of failure get in their way. They are not afraid of tackling a set – back.
- Failure. Allow your child to fail sometimes. Trial and error is the way we all learn isn’t it? A child will learn that it’s not then the end of the world if he occasionally fails at something.
- Finding their own identity. Help your child to find things to get involved in that he really likes, whether that’s sports, playing an instrument etc…once they find something they are passionate about doing it will build their confidence.
- Perseverance. Praise your child when you can see they have persevered at something and it has turned out successfully. Learning not to give up at the very first hurdle is so important in building confidence and self-esteem.
- New things. Encourage them to try new things instead of sticking to the same old thing that they are comfortable with. Many children come to my clinic with Neophobia (the fear of trying anything new) Attaining new skills makes children feel confident and capable. They then feel they can tackle anything that comes their way.
- Teach how to set goals. Achieving goals makes a child feel strong. Encourage your child to make a list of things he would like to accomplish. Then teach him or her how to break them down into smaller longer- term goals. By doing this you will be encouraging their interests and helping them to learn the skills required to attain their goals later on through life.
- Imperfection doesn’t matter. Perfection is nearly always unrealistic. Teach them that being less than perfect is “Perfectly human and perfectly ok!” Social media is not helping this situation of “always being perfect” as when children see all the posts about people being perfectly happy, with the perfect make up, the perfect figure, having the perfect life, this can lead to them feeling perfectly depressed and unworthy!
- Challenges. Help your child get involved with activities that he feels comfortable with then he will feel confident enough to attempt a bigger challenge.
- Praise, Praise, and more Praise! Praising children for their successes is great but remember to praise them for their “efforts” regardless of the outcome. Value the work they have done, whether it’s a toddler building a house of bricks or a teenager taking out the rubbish!
- Unconditional love. Show your child you love him no matter what. Win or lose. Good reports or bad. Do make sure your child knows that YOU know he has tried his hardest. This will give his self – worth a big boost even when he’s perhaps not feeling too good about himself.
These are just ten very quick tips that any parent can use to help their child become more resilient and confident, however if you feel that your child needs a little more help, I offer a special “growth mindset and confidence” course for children, where they will learn a) how to deal with their own anxiety b) how to feel more confident right from the start and c) how to be more resilient.
One of the mums whose son Thomas (7) did the programme online during lockdown saidJulie Marshall, London.
“My son Thomas was so quiet and shy that I was getting very worried that this would hold him back both at school but later on in life too! I was sceptical that Elaine could help so I was absolutely gobsmacked when his teachers said “what have you done with Thomas – he’s a different boy! He puts his hand up and answers questions in class, he seems so much more confident!” so yes, I would highly recommend Elaine’s programme for children. My daughter also did the “Get your child eating,“ programme as she was a fussy eater and again it was highly successful”
“Experience tells you what you can do – Confidence allows you to do it”Stan Smith
If YOU are worried that your child lacks confidence or self- esteem, is shy and non resilient, do contact me at: www.focus-hypnotherapy.co.uk