Confidence 5THE SHOUTING PARENT goes like this…. “WHAT IS THIS? 80% in MATH? You “gat” to be kidding me. What happened to the remaining 20%? They grew wings and flew away? Oh…or your teacher decided to steal your grades? What am I supposed to do with this grade now? For a Yoruba mother she goes “MO GBE, E GBA MI. THIS CHILD HAS KILLED ME” translation- “I’m in trouble, please help- this child has killed me” (figuratively speaking that is). She continues “Don’t you see Mr Ajao’s daughter next door. Can’t you see that she’s always on top of her class?” What is the matter with you? You better don’t waste my money if you are not ready to study and blah, blah, blah, blah…..she goes on and on…….YELLING and NEGATIVE COMPARISON.

This is the story of quite a number of people growing up. A constant barrage of criticism and negative comparison. What most parents think as being strict. The question to ask in this scenario is this, “should a child be reprimanded for getting poor grades, probably! Is this the right way (though 80% is borderline bad grades), ABSOLUTELY NOT. But the truth is that most parents engage in such act constantly and do not realize the long term effect this has on their children…….low self esteem, same family as lack of confidence.

Confidence 1

Let’s break it down together……what exactly is self-confidence and how do you develop it?

I like the way Psychologists.anywhere.anyday puts it….it states Self-confidence allows you to have positive yet realistic views of yourself and the situations in which you are involved. If you have self-confidence, typically you do not fear challenges, you are able to stand up for what you believe, and you have the courage to admit your limitations”. Now if a child lacks confidence according to this definition, the child obviously lives in fear. Fear of failure, fear of challenges, fear of rejection, fear of association etc.

Causes of lack of confidence

Multiple articles attribute childhood lack of confidence to the following factors below; Psychology for living calls them confidence killers. These are day to day parental actions that we sometimes take for granted and are not aware of the consequences;

  • Negative Criticism
  • Lack of praise
  • Unrealistic or age-inappropriate expectations
  • Lack of encouragement
  • Excessive parental anxiety
  • Angry punishment and correction
  • Overprotection
  • Unfavorable comparison to siblings and friends
  • Excessive competition
  • Childhood trauma
  • Childhood bad experience
  • Poor living conditions etc.

Confidence 6

How can confidence be built in a child?

Having established the meaning and causes of lack of self-confidence, how do we deal with it? Based on the above statements, obviously an environment where positive values are taught and reinforced is the antidote. An environment that allows a child to be free without any external negative influence.

Antidote for negative parental actions

Watch your temper- This is when most parents say all sorts of unpleasant words to their children. Name calling, swearing, comparison etc. When a child’s behavior is in compliant with parental instructions, it is easy to show love. But it becomes challenging when a child misbehaves. When things don’t go our way, it is not an excuse to speak or act inappropriately to your child. Parents should always try to exercise control in dealing with children. I once watched Will Smith Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I’m not sure you are familiar with it. Anyways, Will and Carlton (2 teenage cousins) lured their Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian (Will’s Uncle and Aunt and Carlton’s dad and mom) into signing a permission slip for a school trip that was never going to take place. Both wanted to spend the night in a slum having had a bet that Carlton will survive the night.  Anyway, somehow their Uncle and Aunt Vivian got to know and all hell broke loose. When the 2 children got home, Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian were so upset. Aunt Vivian said something very profound that stood with me as a child. She said that she was so mad at both of them she didn’t know what to do and that both should go upstairs into their room until she decides on how to deal with the situation. For some reason I have this scenario in my mind quite a number of times when I am so upset with my children. Morale of this story, you should hold off on dealing with your children anytime they upset you. This will give you time to clear your head and think of how best to handle the situation.

ConfidenceDon’t be an enabler- This speaks to the over-protective and anxious parent. Sometimes as parents, it is easier for us to quickly do certain chores ourselves to save time rather than allow our children to go through the learning process. I have caught myself in this act occasionally. My husband is a little tougher than me here. Sometimes Emi my 5year old wants me to come to the rescue when Daddy tells her to complete a chore. I find myself occasionally standing up to do this but then I catch myself just in time. When a child is struggling with a chore that you think he/she is old enough to master, I will suggest that you allow the child to complete the chore. You are building endurance and patience. Don’t be an enabler.

Assign age appropriate chores to children- Again I speak to African parents who engage their children in house chores that are beyond their capability. I know children are supposed to have their own share of house chores but “biko” please give them age appropriate ones. This does not mean you are less strict or less firm (if there is any word like that) and it doesn’t mean they are spoilt. If you keep assigning chores that they are incapable of completing, they will begin to feel inadequate thinking they cannot do anything right, a sign of low self-esteem.

Praise your child but do not overdo it- It is healthy to offer praises to your child. Children yearn to hear their parents say beautiful things about them. They sometimes show off in front of their parents just so the parents can give them a wow for their action. Be generous with your praises.

Play with your child- Spend one-on-one time with your child no matter their age. Every child should have an individual parent-child time no matter the age. This is an important part of a child’s development. When you spend time with your child, you are building a solid foundation and relationship with your child. You become influential in your child’s life when you create time to pour virtue into then. They get to hear your voice in a playful, solemn voice. My mother always used to tell me that the only time I speak to my child alone shouldn’t be when I am upset with her. She should see me in all light. Play, serious-minded, joking.

Encourage them when you see that they are struggling- Keep a close eye on your child’s behavior, school work and relationship with friends. Challenges that accompany these can lead to low self-esteem. Friends have great influence on your child’s behavior. Watch out for intimidation from friend and if your child is a people pleaser. These are not good signs.

There are quite a number that I did not touch, share your own thoughts on this matter. How have you been able to build your child’s confidence? Leave a comment below. It wil be great to hear from you.

Sorry this post was a little longer than usual. ‘Couldn’t help it. So much I wanted to share with you 🙂


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  1. Thanks for sharing! I reward my kids when they go above and beyond what I have assigned to them. I notice it helps them think outside the box.