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10 Tips To Boost Your Child’s Confidence (And Not Their Arrogance)

10 Tips To Boost Your Child’s Confidence (And Not Their Arrogance)

A recent study by The Ohio State University suggests that increasing narcissistic development in children may be attributed to parents’ over-valuation of their child’s abilities and achievements, consistently over time. That is, parents believing that their children are more deserving and special compared to others. The findings also suggest that the development of narcissistic traits stem partially from socialization experiences, and in the case of children, how their parents interact with them. There is a difference in the way “narcissism” is defined, and how it is different from a person who has high or healthy “self-esteem” though.

For starters, the study defines narcissistic individuals as those who “feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment.” On the other hand, “confidence”, may be simply referred to as “a measure of one’s belief in one’s own abilities…”, according to Kansas State University professor, Candice Shoemaker. Based on anecdotal evidence and empirical studies, it would also appear that individuals who’ve a healthy degree of confidence in their abilities also tend to perform better in their chosen areas of application.

In a nutshell, the confident person has realistic beliefs in his/her own capabilities and enjoys higher chances to succeed, whilst the other holds an inflated belief that they better than the rest, often feel entitled to receive a (positive) result, but tend to perform poorer than the former.

Whilst it is natural for many of us to think the world of our flesh and blood, and go the extra mile to support them during their formative years, praising them to the high-heavens doesn’t help. In fact, over-praising was found to be the largest predictor of narcissism in children – and that had no effect on the self-esteem levels (i.e. self-respect and confidence in their abilities).

How can parents and caregivers help nurture confidence in children and minimize the risk of arrogance then?

Here are ten tips to help you to do so:

1. Allow them to fall (and be there for them when it happens)

I’m starting with probably the biggest and hardest point to swallow – how to let them fall.

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Falling and failing hurts. It’s a natural way our mind alerts us to danger… and motivates us to do better. Pain is a survival instinct that reminds us that we need to skill up and adapt to our environment.

When our children fall, parents feel the pain twofold – one because they can relate to the pain their children are going through.

Two, when they see their baby cry – and out of love and concern, they become all too eager to put a smile back on their children’s faces.

Sometimes, the pressures of the world also mean that some parents want to “fix things”, stop the crying and move on as well. Unfortunately, we won’t be with our children forever, so it’s better for us to teach our kids how to pick themselves up after a fall and recognize areas for improvement rather than to dismiss it or blame others for it.

I learned a great way to teach kids how to pick themselves up from losing, from seeing my nephews and nieces playing with board games.

Games being games, there’s going to be a winner and losers. Yes, plural. Seeing them attempting and playing together starting at the tender age of three showed me the best and worst (then) sights of child. The periods of competition, victory, joy, disappointment, gloating – the good and bad – became teachable moments for these young minds, and parents want to be there reinforce positive traits and guide them through negative behavior when that happens.

As the adage goes, “when one hits rock bottom, the only way is up.” Funnily enough, when we’ve become experienced enough with our initial fears and difficulties, we learn to handle them better – and with that comes a deeper sense of confidence.

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2. Teach them to be accountable for their actions

By teaching our children to be accountable for their actions, they begin to appreciate the power of their choices and develop greater sensitivity to the consequences of those choices. Our children begin to learn and see that life is what they make of it, and not merely subjected to the actions of other people – parents, society etc. Naturally, there will always be things beyond our control, but that’s what all of us are subjected to in this world. Some of the world’s richest and most accomplished individuals are shining examples of how they struck gold when they strove to make “lemonade from the lemons” they were given.

Some famous names that come to mind are, Richard BransonSteve Jobs and Chris Gardner. Teaching our children to be accountable for their actions helps them learn about the power that’s in their hands. It’s the power to shape and chart their future in spite of the environment and competition surrounding them. It challenges them to see things in perspective, to see opportunities, their strengths, and potential pitfalls. It’s a skill they will continue to learn and hone long after we’re gone.

3. Let them help around the house (and celebrate milestones)

A large part of confidence comes from having a sense of competence, and children also need opportunities to build and demonstrate their skill and competency levels as well, and a great place to do that is when they’re at home. Getting them to help, even when they’re to little to help with cooking, setting the table and making beds helps everybody see tangible results of their actions, and provides an avenue for them see and feel that their contribution is valuable.

Too often, many parents are afraid of the mess that might come about during the early days, and rush to rescue their children when they fall. Yet that “mess” is merely a small and temporary problem to a larger and longer-term solution

4. Challenge them

As our children make progress in the various aspects of their lives – be it setting the tables or making the soccer team, it’s not sufficient to merely validate their achievements. The nurturing role of the parent also requires them to challenge the children to push their boundaries and strive for the next challenge. This could mean our children graduating from making the bed they sleep in, to sweeping the bedroom floor (conquering their bedroom!) before moving into helping out the living room and finally into the kitchen.

Similarly, they may do well to make the soccer team as a striker or defender, and whilst we celebrate that achievement, we’ll be encouraging them to actually score a goal or keep a clean sheet.

After all, there’s only so much one can rave about and commend our kids for actually kicking the ball and encouraging them to become better also helps them keep their feet on the ground.

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5. Put your child in charge

Every so often, put your child in charge of family activity. This could be what the family might be having for dinner, movie, or where to go as a family. Putting your child in charge provides them with the opportunity to make decisions, not only for themselves but with their family (and others) in mind. It may be prudent to rotate this privilege between each member, so that more assertive siblings do not dominate

6. Encourage play and the pursuit of their passion

Like so many of the points above, inculcating a sense and desire to learn is not only a great way to build competency (and hence confidence in their skills), but also keep your child’s feet on the ground. Helping our children find and encouraging them to pursue their passion not only helps them nurture their love for learning, but also liberates them to explore freely and find their feet in the world.

Like many of the greatest discoveries of our world, many were found by accident. Who knows what talents they might unearth when they’re having fun?

7. Encourage them to express themselves

Encourage them to take part in discussion, be open and respectful to disagreement and be open to every member’s right to share their opinions and emotions about a particular matter. Sharing and challenging each members’ opinions help our children understand that more than one opinion has the right to exist in our world, and that there’s never a clear-cut solution to life’s sophistication.

In turn, showing respect for another’s opinion also shows our children how to be respectful towards others as well; and in certain instances, what it means to be assertive and passionate in one’s stand and perspective as well.

8. Listen and and help them relate to emotions

When your child is trying to tell you something, stop and listen to what he/she has to say, even if you don’t understand all his words. They need to know that their thoughts and feelings matter.

Help them recognize and get comfortable with their emotions by acknowledging them. You may say, “It sounds like you are sad because you have to say bye to your friends.”

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Doing so helps them recognize emotions such as sadness, frustration, anger, and shows that you are accepting their emotions without judgment. It shows that you validate their their emotions, and show that you value what they have to say.

Likewise, when you share your own feelings, like “I’m excited about going to your play”, they’ll gain confidence expressing their own.

9. Don’t be afraid of calling them out their strengths, values and negative emotions

Every so often your child might get frustrated because they can’t do things their friends can, like painting as well as Peter (for example). Empathize with their disappointment by saying, “I can see that you are feeling frustrated, and I’m glad to hear that you are determined to do better”.

You may also remind them they’re good at “building things / putting things together” (again, for example), something which Peter really isn’t good at. This can help your child learn that we all have unique strengths and limitations, that there are other values worth acknowledgement, and that they don’t have to be perfect to feel good about themselves.

10. Resist sweeping comparisons

When we make comments such as “Why can’t you be as hardworking like Alice?”, we are more often than not making our children feel bad about himself. For some, it’s a hope that shame inflicts enough pain for them to take action.

Interestingly, even positive comparisons, such as “You’re the best player in your team” could be damaging – not only because a child now has a skewed idea of reality without taking into account the contribution of others, it can also be hard to live up to this image.

Better it would, when we learn appreciate our children for the unique individuals they are rather than how they measure up against others generally.

In that way, it’s more likely that they will learn to value themselves too.

Featured photo credit: Petr Dodek via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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