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6 Ways to Boost Your Child's Confidence

There’s so much I want for my children. I mean, the list is kind of exhausting. I want them to have at least one good friend for every life stage, and if I’m honest, I’d like for them to find that in each other. I want them to be strong and healthy and cavity-free. I want them to be technologically adept but not addicted to screens. I want them to be husbands who listen well, who take out the trash, fix dinner on occasion, and believe in equality for their wives. I want them to be compassionate, wise leaders with boldness to take action as well as an empathy to be still. I want them to be employees who work hard because they want to. I want them to know themselves well. (See? I told you it’s exhausting. And it’s not even exhaustive.)

But when I look for the common thread among my long list of hopefuls, I find a theme: confidence. I want them to be confident men. Actually, I would go so far as to say that it’s my job to instill in my children a healthy confidence. As parents, there are so many things we can’t influence or control, but we can give them a solid start with healthy self-esteem and self-awareness. By taking a few intentional steps each day, we can foster a fertile ground for our children’s self-confidence as well as the ability to build up others when they’re feeling down.

1. Be generous with praise

But not too generous. It’s a fine line. A child who is constantly criticized will begin to question his ability and worth, but too many compliments can make a child think too highly of himself and too little of others. Give your child compliments just because, and offer suggestions for how they might get stronger as well.

2. Give hugs

A respected family therapist, Virginia Satir, very famously said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” A hug has a near-immediate impact on a person’s mood, stress levels, and heart rate, and hugging has as much benefit for the giver as the receiver. A simple hug goes a long way to remind your child that she’s not alone, that you care, and that emotions are safe and welcome.