Parenting Tips: How to raise confident children

Unlearning everything we have been taught is the beginning

By Kavita Srinivasan

Published: Thu 15 Sep 2022, 6:37 PM

Everything we have been told, taught or witnessed on this subject is wrong. Every single thing. Don’t get me wrong, our parents’ generation got a lot right but raising confident individuals is not one of them.

“Just let him go alone to camp. He will adjust. He will be fine. He will learn to be independent.”

“Just throw him in the pool. He will learn to swim.”

“Just let your children sleep on their own. Their independence will give them confidence.”

This. Is. Not. How. You. Build.


Confidence is this: Feeling safe in your body, loving yourself, trusting your inner voice and listening to your instincts.

When we push our children in ways that do not come to them naturally, they do not feel safe. Children need connection and safety to learn anything. And here is the thing: it takes time. This is not an overnight job. Why? Neurologically, the brain learns when your flight, fight, freeze mechanism is not on, i.e. when you feel safe. When you push your children away from you before they are ready, the learning parts of their brain shut down because they are in danger. The reptilian brain kicks in, pumping adrenaline and cortisol into their blood, pushing them to survive the danger.

They do not learn confidence. They do not learn anything. They simply learn to survive the danger. But then, what if all of life feels dangerous? There is no end to the cortisol and adrenaline being pumped into you, corroding your organs, corroding your well-being and impacting your health.

So, how do you raise confident children who grow to become independent?

Yes that is right: children grow into independence. It takes time. All of this takes time. The brain slowly builds neural circuits that cement into habits and instinct. None of this is easy. And none of this is immediate. What is guaranteed is that when you are patient, not in a rush and you help your children grow into confidence and independence, your child will truly grow into him and herself. This is what you do:

1Always validate your children’s emotional experiences: This teaches them to trust their feelings and trust their inner voice.

Example: Child says: “I had a bad day at school.”

Do not say: “But you love school. You always have fun!”

Say: “I hear you. Tell me more. I am here. I believe you.”

2Maintain connection always: Nothing matters more than your connection with your children. Nothing. Spend time with them for a few minutes first thing in the morning, as soon as they are back from school and allow for adequate ‘chat’ time when you put them to bed at night. These crucial times of the day are essential. Just be there. This makes them feel safe and understood.

3Do not push your children or compare them to others: Everyone knows their limits and everyone has a different barometer. There is no one size fits all. So, listen to your children.

Example: Your child does not want to jump into the pool when his friends are...

Don’t say: “Look at xx. He’s having fun. Come on! I promise it will be fun.”

Say: “You can jump when you are ready. Till then, I am here with you.”

By doing the above, we are telling our children every day that they are amazing, they are accepted, they are loved and they are safe just for who they are. When you make them feel this way, they learn to love and trust themselves. And that, my friends, is the very essence of confidence.

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