There’s arguably no task more important for a parent than to help them become the full version of themselves. Now, this isn’t always so easy, because children have their own little personalities shockingly quickly as they grow up, and that will often determine what their interests are, what their skills and talents could be, and even their general demeanor. In other words, while we can help gently nudge our children in the right direction and set boundaries or lessons for them to learn, ultimately, we cannot shape them from the ground up.
This is where a deft and mindful approach is required. Helping our children become confident but not arrogant, allowing them to develop in the right direction, and giving them a healthy exposure to challenge is part of the careful balance of parenthood, and getting this right can take time.
Let’s consider, then, a few tips for achieving that autonomy, confidence, and self-regard important for anyone to thrive.
Encourage Independent Decision-Making
It’s healthy to encourage independent decision-making as much as you can. But how is this achieved? You can start simply by offering different choices, even if that’s between two meals for dinner, or who they’d like to invite to their birthday party.
You can also celebrate small decisions, or show them the consequences of mistakes they’ve made, such as by going to school with a bad home project due to not asking you for materials until the night it was necessary. It can be helpful to talk them through their decisions to help them understand why they were made. This allows critical thinking to grow, which improves autonomous thought, which also leads to confidence and self-regard.
It’s also good to teach children to feel more authority over caring for themselves. From teaching them to brush their teeth correctly (and checking that they do), or showing your daughters how to make a beautiful half-up, half-down ponytail that looks neat and works wonders for a special event.
You can also teach them small and worthwhile measures of self-care, from how to stretch well, to using lip balm in the winter, to the importance of sun cream in the hot summer season. Little tips like this stick with us into our adulthood and beyond, but we all need to be taught them at some point.
Provide Opportunities For Responsibility
When growing kids and teens feel a sense of responsibility for themselves, and they tend to feel more confident about that. A good method of teaching this is by bringing home a household pet suitable for a child, like a hamster, rabbit, or gerbil. Of course, you can keep an eye on this pet and make sure they’re in good health, but you might also teach how to clean a hamster cage and when it should be done, how to gently play with a small creature, how to feed them correctly, and how to give them a relaxing environment to enjoy.
You can also keep it simple. By a certain age, perhaps ten, eleven, or twelve, you can teach them the basics of keeping their room clean each week by vacuuming or tidying their bed or making it when they wake up. Little decisions like this can ensure personal space feels comfortable in the best way.
Enrol In Hobbies For Self-Regard
There’s only so much you can offer as a parent. At some point, your child or teen needs to learn from others and the environment of their peers. Enrolling them in hobby groups can be a perfect place for that. For example, allowing them to join martial arts clubs designed for their age range can be fantastic. This is because martial arts classes, while teaching fighting movements and discipline, usually focus on complete safety and how to de-escalate conflict before anything else, which are valuable tools for anyone to learn.
Here you’re also providing a safe and healthy place for your loved one to grow in. They can learn habits and hobbies at home, of course, and certainly at school, but a “third space” in which they develop will always be a fantastic supplement and give your child more to work with as they get older. The more experience we have at that kind of developmental age, the better. Of course, martial arts is just one example, as learning to play violin, to do artwork, or just to join in eco-friendly initiatives in your local area are also fantastic options.
Nurture A Sense Of Self-Worth
It’s easy to think of parenthood as the need to discipline, and it certainly is. When people say “where were the parents?” they’re usually referring to a lack of discipline or care that a child has suffered.
Yet while this is important, you likely know that if you’re reading an article like this. It’s also important to never underestimate the power of offering self-worth to your loved one, to give them the tools necessary to grow and develop just as required. That might mean giving praise but qualified correctly, for example, if they do well in school work you might praise exactly what was said to them by the teacher, why that impressed you, and inspire them to do more of it.
That kind of praise given when it’s earned can be a blossoming inspiration for any child, and giving that when appropriate is a wise move as a parent. Nurturing that sense of self-worth can last a lifetime, even if mistakes have been made.
With this advice, we hope you can find it easier to invest in the autonomy and confidence of your children. It’s not always easy to know where and how to achieve this as a parent, particularly when you have so many tasks to keep up with, from working a job to keeping the household running to keeping your children well-fed.
Yet with a little care, compassion, and encouragement, you’d be surprised just how many of your lessons now can last an entire lifetime. We hope this post helps get the ball rolling.