A Back-to-School Confidence Masterclass for Your Children

 A Back-to-School Confidence Masterclass for Your Children

My Top Tips for This Tricky Time

As a parent you may be shocked that something like 25% of children experience low self-worth and self-confidence issues at some point.  These issues can hit hardest in the back-to-school period when your child feels vulnerable. There are new teacher and classmates to get to know, new subjects and maybe even a new school.

To make sure your child’s confidence is in tip top shape use these strategies as they head back to school. Not only will these boost their confidence generally, with a spin-off effect on how they cope with school, but some will teach them specific skills.

Get Practical

When everything related to school is streamlined at home, you eliminate any sense of chaos and panic on school mornings. The child that leaves home panic-stricken about missing the bus, or forgetting their gym kit, is the child who faces a shaky start to the day. Solve this by getting practical - put up a chart of what they need, on which day, that can be checked each evening for the next day. Boost your child's confidence by getting them involved in organising the things they need for school.

Treasure Them

Make a big fuss of their good points that have nothing to do with things like swimming badges and test scores. Of course you should praise them for those achievements but even more important is to highlight what makes them a special person. Tell them when they've been extra helpful or kind. Praise them for their sense of humour or thoughtfulness. Treasuring them for the growing person they are, will boost their self-esteem.

Teaching Boundaries

One big issue if your child’s confidence is low is being vulnerable to bullying. Bullies have a knack for honing in on another child's insecurities. Teach your child about setting boundaries on other's bad behavior and they're unlikely to be bullied. First discuss how they should treat others with respect - and expect that in return. Next, ask what they’d say to someone who starts calling them names or saying nasty things. Encourage them to think it through. Finally, reinforce their suggestions as well as adding your own. Get them to imagine they have a boundary around them like a circle in the sand. They shouldn't let another child’s negative behaviour inside their boundary.

Challenge Them

Setting your child small challenges will boost their confidence. By setting challenges you give the subtle message they don't need to panic in the face of hurdles. Plus that they can master something new. For instance, challenge them to learn to read the map if you drive them to school, or to draw up a list of the ingredients to make a recipe, or even to learn a new and challenging word weekly from the dictionary. Think about your child and what would be a good, manageable challenge for them.

Live Their Dreams

Many parents damage a child's confidence by ‘pooh-poohing’ their dreams. They say things like, "What do you want to be an astronaut for? That’s dangerous!" Or they joke about their talents saying, "You sound like a frog when you sing!" Of course you shouldn’t make false promises that your child will definitely achieve it, but you can encourage them.

Taking Steps

Whether they've told you about a dream, or simply want to do something new, build their confidence by guiding them into taking steps to reach it. Not only does this teach them to be logical in planning something, but it'll go a long way with their schoolwork. In the astronaut-example they could check out a library book about astronauts and then get on the Net to find out more. They could think about the subjects they need to study and do some little projects in these areas.

Beware of Boastfulness

Suggest that they learn to take with a pinch of salt the things other children boast about. Your child might feel undermined by the boastfulness of others. Explain that children often do this because, inside, they don't feel very good about themselves. And that they should simply ignore such things.

Give Up the Comparison Game

It's easy to do but can be damaging to your child's esteem - comparing them unfavourably to their sibling or someone else's child. When you say, "Can't you be more like your older brother?" It's like your boss saying, "Can't you be more like your colleague?" It doesn't feel nice! Only ever compare their present behaviour with, say, their past behavior as in, “Remember how hard you tried on that project last term? Why don’t you put that effort in now?"

Their Biggest Role Model

You may never give it a thought but you’re your child's biggest role model. They learn from the way you react to situations. If they see you crumble in the face of a hurdle it undermines their confidence. If you carry on, cry, or shout when things don't go your way, that's what they'll do. They'll feel that everything has to be a drama rather than learning that they should seek a solution to a challenge. Don't lose sight of how much you influence them in this way.

Check out my book Your Child's Dreams - A Parent-Child Work Book (Connections £7.99) on the Homepage

Published in The Express Newspaper


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