As parents, we want to emotionally protect our kids and always want the best for them. We want to see them happy and fulfilled. However, remember that we will not always be there for them. We want them to be independent and happy even after we are gone. Hence, we must raise kids that have a strong independent mind. In this article, I will be sharing a few things that you can do to raise kids that have a strong independent mind.
Model confidence yourself
Only confident parents can raise confident kids. Make sure that you model confidence for your child. This means that if you have something challenging to take care of, stay calm and composed. Look at the positive side of things before you start to panic and stress. Remember your child is always mirroring you. By modeling confidence, I don’t mean that you pretend to be 100% normal when you aren’t honestly feeling that way. What I mean is that you can acknowledge your stress and anxiety but not get consumed by it.
Encourage your child to try new things
As parents, we must try to expose our children to new experiences and activities. However, there is a huge difference between introducing and forcing. When you introduce your child to new things, give them some time to explore and learn how it works. Don’t try to rush them. Don’t deprive them of the joy of learning. When they spend some time learning the new activity, they start to believe that they can understand new things and activities on their own. This improves their overall confidence. This is such an important skill to have even when they are much older and have to tackle new challenges that come their way.
Don’t let mistakes stop your child
You mustn’t always expect your child to do everything right. Mistakes are a part of learning new things. You don’t want your child to be afraid of making mistakes. Instead, you want to tell your child that it is completely okay to make mistakes. You want to tell your child that he/she must learn from his/her mistakes instead of feeling bad about making a mistake. This will enable your child to try new things without being afraid of making mistakes. Remember, the famous Thomas Edison made 1000 unsuccessful attempts before he invented the light bulb.
Allow kids to fail
As parents, we always want to prevent our kids from falling in a school exam, from losing a football match, from losing a race, etc. We want to emotionally protect them from the feeling of failure. However, by doing so we are doing more harm than good. Kids need to understand that it is okay to fail and that failure is a stepping stone to success. Kids need to know that through exploration, effort, and hard work they can always move closer to success. Kids who have never tasted failure find it very difficult to face challenges later in life. For example, if you are racing with your child, don’t always let them come first. Let them lose a few times and then let them win a few times when you can see that they are trying very hard to win. By doing so you are sending the right message to your child. You are telling your child that it is okay to lose/ fail and that by working hard they can always change their failures into success.
Praise your child’s efforts
Do not focus on praising the outcome and your child too much. Instead, try to focus on the effort and the process. When you focus on the child you lead to what is called the “I am attitude” or the fixed mindset. The fixed mindset is a mindset that is not open to change. Avoid using phrases such as “You are the best”, ‘you are great”, “you are amazing”, “you are the prettiest”, etc. These phrases will make it very tough for your child to adjust to places where they are not the best, prettiest, or smartest. Instead, focus on the process. For example, “I like that you are trying to wear a new color today, it suits you.”, “I like how you put some toys back in place today”, “I like how you are trying to solve this problem”, etc. When you focus on the process you tell your child that by trying new things they can get better results. This results in your child having a growth mindset. A growth mindset is a mindset that allows for change and is willing to experiment with new things. Hence, always appreciate your child’s efforts.
Help kids identify their passion
Help your child find the things that they are good at. Being good/ better at something can help improve their confidence and self-esteem. You don’t want to push your child to be good at everything. Instead, you want them to get better at what they are good at and enjoy doing. This will help improve their self worth and they might also end up pursuing it professionally when they grow older.
Help your kids set goals and then show them how they can take small actionable steps to achieve their short-term and long-term goals. For example, if your child wants to play cricket for the Indian team, then the long-term goal is to get selected for the national team and the short-term goal can be to play at a regional level. Action steps to achieve the goal can be – Eat healthily, exercise regularly, practice every day, and work on his mental strength. Now your child knows that he needs to do all of this to move closer to his goal. Try and help your child get clarity about the action steps. By starting this at a younger age you are encouraging him/her to do so on his/her own when he/she has new goals that he/she set for himself/herself.This is a great way to boost his/her confidence and the possibility of achieving this/her goals.
Ask Them To Help Out
Kids feel very empowered and a sense of self-worth when they are asked to do work that adults do. Let your child help out with age-appropriate tasks. For example, turning on and off the lights, washing the vegetables, setting the table, selecting his/her clothes, doing things for the younger sibling, etc. Being a part of the family chores and responsibilities makes them feel very confident and invaluable. This also sets them up to take on new responsibilities with a sense of confidence.
Being Imperfect is Normal
As adults, we know that there is no such thing as being perfect. We must send the same message to our children and educate them that there is no such thing as being perfect. Being real, honest, authentic, and comfortable is what matters. When kids learn this at a younger age, they have realistic expectations from themselves and others. This helps improve their self-worth and confidence.
Let Them Succeed
It is okay to involve our kids in challenging activities, but it is even more important to strike a good balance. Constantly exposing them to activities that they find very difficult to tackle can reduce their confidence and self-worth. It is important to sometimes let them do things that they can easily tackle and are good at. This will improve their confidence and they will be ready to take on new challenges.
Express Your Love And Tell your child that you love him/her
You must tell your child that you love him/her just as he/she is irrespective of the failures and success. Tell your child that you love them for who they are and not for what they do. Tell your child that you are always there for them. This feeling of love and support will help increase his/ her confidence and self-worth.
Now you know the recipe for raising kids that have strong independent minds. You have the recipe but if you want to see the results you better start cooking. It’s better to start small rather than just thinking about doing it all at once. I am sure if you do this or even if you start by just doing some of it, you will start to notice the change in your child’s overall confidence and attitude.