As a mother, I find myself constantly nagging my children and picking out all the negative things they do. "Stop bothering your sister." "No, you can't jump on the couch." " You are moving so slow, you may as well be walking backwards!" These are just a few things I have caught myself saying. But the reality is that these words are not pouring life into my children. Instead of building up my children's self-confidence, I find myself, along with so many other parents, focusing on the bad instead of the good. Here are a few simple was we can build up our children's self confidence and change our mindset from spotting those quirky, annoying things our kids do, to encourage great potential in them.
1. The 1-4 Ratio - For every one negative interaction a child has, they need four positive interactions. Positive interactions can include encouraging words, positive non-verbal communication, random acts of kindness, and having quality, uninterrupted one-on-one time.
2. Praise With a Purpose - I find myself saying "good job!" and "you are doing awesome!" But what I am really doing is praising without letting the child know why. Instead of praising just to praise, try praising with a purpose. Say "you are working so hard on coloring that picture, I am so proud of you." or "You are being a great role model for your little brother when you clean up y our toys... thank you!" These moments are not only teaching children the expected behavior, but are also building up their self-confidence.
3. Positive Non-verbal Communication - When I think of non-verbal communication, I think of things like facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Non-verbal communication, plays a huge role in our overall ability to communicate with others and send a message from one person to another. As parents/caregivers, it is important to be mindful of what our non-verbals are saying to our children. Smiling, gently touching a shoulder, giving hugs or high fives, snuggling on the couch while watching a movie, or just being in close proximity to them while they play are all great examples of positive non-verbal communication.
4. Small Acts of Kindness Can Go a Long Way - Children are amazing in their ability to recall little moments that we, as adults, forget. They have this uncanny way of finding the good in situations. Your child will remember your small acts of kindness - sending a note in their lunchbox, picking them up early from school for special time together, surprising them with a small toy, or even something as simple as pulling them aside and reminding them how much they are loved.
5. Set Aside Time to Be Fully Present - Example situation: I am on the phone playing games and looking through posts on social media. My daughter is saying "Mom, look!" or "Watch what I can do" or "Come play with me!" Here is the outcome: I am annoyed because I just need some alone time. My child is sad because she just wanted some attention from her mother. Sound familiar? What I just taught my child is that my phone (or whatever distraction I have) is more important than she is. Being fully present with your child(ren) is a choice that needs to be intentional. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine and stressors of line. Your challenge: Set aside time every day to be fully present. Put your phone away, turn off the TV, stop cleaning. Play with your child, focus on their need for attention and affection, and you never know - for a few sweet, short moments you may feel like a kid again.