As a middle school teacher and mother, I often see kids trying to compromise their true selves for the sake of “fitting in.” All kids are unique and individually made and I strive to build confidence in all my students, as well as my daughter, in embracing their authentic selves and being confident in who they are as a person. Kids tend to worry about what others think of them and will try to act, dress, and think like “the crowd” so they feel a sense of belonging. We all know that going along with “the crowd” may not always be in their best interest.
Here are some ways to cultivate authenticity and confidence in our kids:
Love Them Unconditionally
Loving your child unconditionally means loving them even when they are doing wrong. Of course, we need to correct or give consequences to our children when they mess up, but express to them that you correct them BECAUSE you love them. Unconditional love will help them become comfortable in their own skin, even when they make mistakes.
When your child is expressing confidence or being their true authentic selves, shower them with positivity. Let them know that it’s a good thing. It’s always more effective to focus on the positives than only addressing the negatives. Want to see more confidence and authenticity in your child? Then show them positive reinforcement when they express it.
Model Confidence and Authenticity Within Yourself
The best way to lead is by example. How can your child learn to be confident and authentic if they don’t know what it looks like? Be a confident and authentic person in front of them, so they can see that it’s good to be yourself!
Embrace Their Unique Quirks
Unique quirks are what make each individual authentic. If everyone acted the same, how boring would that be? Any personality traits or characteristics your child has that are unique, embrace them! Encourage your child to be confident in their quirks. It’s what makes them unique and authentic; what sets them apart from the crowd.
Teach Them Not to Compare
Comparison is the thief of joy. When your child starts to compare themselves to other children, put a stop to it immediately. Sally’s purpose is different from Jane’s purpose in life and each child is created differently to serve their own purpose. No need to compare apples to oranges. We are all unique and different in our own way.
Practice Goal Setting
Helping your child set goals will help keep their focus off of comparing themselves to others, to focusing on their own personal achievements. We feel confident when we achieve goals and the same works with kids. Have them write their goals down on paper and hang it up so it’s visibly seen every day. Maybe even write it on their bathroom mirror with dry-erase markers.
Failure is necessary in life to succeed. Let them know that it’s ok to mess up, as long as they get back up and try again. This builds strength and confidence, because every time we fail, we learn a lesson and strive to improve the next attempt. Instill this quality in your child and watch their confidence shine brighter each time.
Instilling these qualities in our kids now will help them become more successful and happy adults in the future.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6