My 8 year old son and I are the co-founders of The Step Stool Chef where we are dedicated to building kid leaders. While the focus is on kid cooking, our true goal is to empower kids and create environments where they can build leadership skills and confidence that will last a lifetime. As the “Sous Chef Mommy”, my personal mission is to inspire other parents to give their kids a safe space to take the lead, take risks and explore new skills.
Whether your child in naturally self-confident or a bit timid, I believe that leadership and confidence is to be nurtured and encouraged. To raise confident kids, experts agree that there are deliberate choices and strategies any parent can use. Here are 7 Tips to Raising Confident Kids to support you in your journey.
1. Let Them Fail
I know this may seem counter-intuitive especially when many of us feel as though one of our jobs as parents is to protect our kids from hurt and disappointment. However, studies show there is strong relationship between resilience and self-esteem. Setbacks and making mistakes are the perfect opportunities to build competence and persistence. Whether it’s learning how to tie a shoe or how to flip a pancake, every time we jump in to minimize their frustration we are inadvertently building a fear of failure. Letting your kids navigate through their own hardships builds inner strength and self-sufficiency.
2. Show Them That You Value Their Opinion
I grew up in an environment that believe thast “children should be seen and not heard”. The intent was to moderate children’s behavior especially in public. However, we must evolve and recognize that children do have a voice. Often they have a great perspective that is worth adhering to. By having an 8-year old as a business partner, I have learned that the simple act of asking his opinion about certain decisions makes him feel valued and appreciated. Even the simple act of deciding which ingredients to include or exclude from a recipe can be a big deal in a child’s eyes.
To be honest, I have been surprised at how good his suggestions have been. I also make sure to point out when I have taken his advice and how his advice has helped. Try this simple exercise with your child with everyday decisions and watch how they light up.
3. Encourage Your Child to Work Outside Their Comfort Zone
Just as adults, kids can become creatures of habit. It’s comfortable to operate in areas with which we are most familiar and have had proven success. Every now and then, however, we must challenge our kids to try something new to continue to build confidence. Whether it is playing with a new group of kids, learning how to cook with unfamiliar foods or trying out for the school play, when kids learn to take small risks they learn the importance of courage and grow to accomplish new things.
4. Create a Family Values Statement
We all have rules and values that guide us and our family, some spoken and others just intuitively understood. By creating a Family Values Statement, you create an opportunity to share your personal beliefs with your kids and how it should influence your family’s behavior. Make sure that they understand that your expectations of their behavior applies to the whole family. Kids will now be confident in knowing how to represent their family in the best light.
5. Provide Opportunities for Your Child to Contribute to the Family
Kids who make key contributions to their family build a greater sense of belonging and responsibility. Household chores is the most common way kids can contribute to the welfare of the family. Other opportunities including allowing your kids to take lead in a family tradition or involving them to cook a family meal. Choose a responsibility that you truly value and they can see the connection of their involvement and how it has helped the family.
6. Name and Celebrate Your Child’s Superpowers
Every child has a special talent or gift. Sometimes it is obvious and many times it is not. It could be that they have a special gift of making others feel special. They may be exceptionally talented in a subject in school, make a fantastic quesadilla or have a knack for making others laugh. Nurturing and acknowledging their special gift makes them feel understood and empowers them to continue the behavior.
7) Let Your Kids Experience Boredom
If we had a dollar for every time we heard our kids say “I’m bored”, we could end world hunger. As tempting as it may be to help our kids escape the claws boredom, it actually is a great way to teach our kids how to be resourceful. We live in a world full of scheduled activities and playdates. Here, we lose the art of navigating boredom and have allowed TV and screen time to be a default activity. No judgement… This is a constant struggle in my home as well. However, we must figure out how to monitor our kids’ free time while not spoon feeding them the solution that will cure their boredom. Confident kids enjoy unstructured free play which fosters creativity and self-reliance.
Hey… we’re all in this together. If you have any tips to raising confident kids, please share them below!
Toria and her 8-year-old son are co-founders of The Step Stool Chef, dedicated to celebrating and inspiring kid independence in the kitchen. Love the idea of cooking with your kids? Click here to download their FREE e-book, “Top 10 Tips to Make Cooking with Kids Easier”.