Whether you’re a parent or not, you might have given thought to the way you were raised — and how you would do things or are doing things differently with your own children.
Research has shown over and over again that childhood is full of critical developmental periods that can inform your personality and behavior into adulthood. And numerous studies have also revealed the link between confidence and success. So when it comes to parenting, it’s easy to understand why aiming to raise confident kids should be a priority.
But how does one go about that? Children are exposed to a broader range of experiences and situations than the ones provided by their home environment — especially in our fast-paced, complex, digital world. And while turning into a control freak is probably ill-advised when it comes to fostering confidence in any child, it turns out that the parents of highly confident kids do specific things that other parents might miss. Here are six of these habits.
They stay away from labels
A new study published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education found that grouping students in classes based on their abilities had negative effects on the children’s self-confidence. So it makes sense that the parents of highly confident kids are careful about using labels and realize that labeling a child’s abilities can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For example, telling a child that math is not her strong suit and reinforcing that narrative through decisions such as extra tutoring or mentioning it to her teachers might backfire and create a confidence gap — the child will internalize the narrative and perform less well in math classes.
They lead by example
Science says that even very young children are able to distinguish markers of high confidence in others — and they imitate the adults around them. For that reason, parents who raise kids with rock-solid self-esteem tend to be confident adults themselves. You can’t expect a child to develop confidence if they have no model for what it looks like into practice.
They avoid inflated praise
While praising a child might seem like a great idea in order to help them develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, overdoing it can have the opposite effect. Why? Inflated praise can set unrealistic and unattainable standards for children, which lowers their self-esteem when they are unable to meet those high expectations, according to a 2017 study on child development that explored the effects of inflated praise on self-esteem. Parents of highly confident kids do encourage and compliment their children — they just make sure their words are sincere and don’t set unreasonable benchmarks.
They encourage a growth mindset
On that note, praise that focuses on effort and progress tends to lead to the development of a growth mindset, the belief that intelligence and abilities are not fixed and can be developed with dedication. The parents of confident kids foster a growth mindset because they know it’s key when it comes to handling setbacks and failure (and they encourage their children to try things and fail), which leads to greater happiness and success in the long run.
They promote decision-making
A huge aspect of confidence is feeling comfortable taking decisions without relying on others. Parents who end up raising highly confident adults promote the importance of decision-making early on. For example, they might encourage their kids to critically think about a situation and come to their own conclusions by asking them questions instead of simply telling them what to do.
They meet their child’s physical and emotional needs
Have you heard of attachment styles? They are used to describe the way adults behave in relationships based on the patterns of attachment they developed with their parents in childhood. When parents neglect their child’s physical and emotional needs in one way or another, even inadvertently and with the best intentions, it can lead to the development of insecure attachment styles such as having a negative view of yourself in relation to others. Parents of highly confident kids promote secure attachment patterns by consistently being there for their children and acknowledging their needs.