I am responsible for three children. I have an 18 year old daughter who is a freshman in college, a six year old son, and my girlfriend has an eight year old son. Around the time my daughter was four years old I started studying characteristics of success. At first I was only concerned about my personal survival and success, but that quickly shifted to looking at how I could help the world around me with what I was learning. Shortly after I turned 24 I knew I wanted to spend my life teaching, training, coaching, counselling, or speaking. Thankfully that has been my life the past eight years.
Whether I’m coaching one-on-one, training a leadership group of 20, or speaking to 150 people, my responsibility is to help people understand concepts that will help them do two things:
1. Overcome self-imposed barriers that hold them back
2. Gain the confidence needed to live the life they want to live
Shortly after I started learning this stuff, I realized I had the same responsibility to my children.
And, guess what? You do too!
We all know people who are secure with themselves and confident. We all know people who are insecure and lack self-confidence. The secure and confident people tend to have an easier time with the world around them. In his Hierarchy of Needs, Abraham Maslow outlines that insecurity and a lack of self-confidence may prevent us from: developing healthy relationships, developing the esteem needed to achieve the life we desire and discovering our purpose and passions.
I’m certainly not a perfect man or father, but trust me, you want your kids to be confident. Their lives will be easier and so will yours.
If you are a parent and you view your role and responsibilities similar to me, what I’m about to share should add value. If you are a parent that has never made confidence a result you’ve committed to, you should. As I mentioned above, it will make your life easier.
To have confidence, our children must have security and stability. It’s hard to maintain a healthy and positive attitude and be all that you can be when you are in survival mode. One way we can give them security and stability is through the culture of our homes. Business leaders are responsible for the culture in their workplace. Athletic coaches are responsible for the culture within their teams. And as the leader of your family, you are responsible for the culture of your home.
Here are three things you must have present in your home to create the stability to allow your child’s confidence to grow. Oh, and to keep your sanity!
1. Clear Roles
Clear roles is a pretty simple concept. You are the parent and they are the children. Not: you are the friend and they are the friend. Or more like, you are the friend that is only treated with respect when they get their way. You are the parent and they are the child. This means you run the show, create the culture, set the rules, and enforce the rules. When the rules are followed, there must be acknowledgement and appreciation. When the rules aren’t followed, there must be consistent consequences.
You run the show! That is your role. That is not their role. They are the child. If you set no boundaries, your children will see no boundaries and you’re going to have your hands full with kids who think they are in charge and lose their mind when they are not.
Now before I you get the impression that I am some communistic dictator, I have to point out that love has to be the foundation. I have an informal rule in my head that I need to love my kids twice as much as I have to discipline them. If you rule your home with an iron fist, your kids might listen out of fear or your perceived power, but they won’t trust you. When love is the foundation, they might not always like you, but they will trust and respect you. This will create all kinds of healthy emotional leverage that will work in everyone’s favor.
Below is one of my favorite television clips of all time. It’s a scene from the pilot episode for the Cosby Show. Cliff (played by Bill Cosby) is having a conversation with his son Theo (played my Malcolm-Jamal Warner) about Theo’s grades and his attitude about the world. Cliff is a very loving father who is hearing his son out, but at some point he has enough of Theo’s nonsense and lays the hammer down, reminding him of who runs the show.
2. Clear Goals
The best way to guide your children to stay on course is to talk to them about the clear destination or desired outcome. Proactively talk to them about what results you need to see and explain why it is good for them. Mentally and emotionally connect them to the end result and give them some freedom to figure out how they are going to achieve it. Help them set clear goals for themselves. Sure they are going to do stupid things and make mistakes along the way, but every stupid thing and mistake they make is an opportunity to be he parent and reconnect them to the clear goal, yours or theirs.
The line I came to use often with my daughter was “My goal is that you reach 18 with confidence and a good head on your shoulders.” We even got to the point where all I would have to say is “What’s my job?” and she would immediately roll her eyes at me and in her sarcastic voice “to guide me in the right direction so I’m confident”. With my son, even at six I say to him “Buddy, my job is to help you be a good boy, so you will grow up to be a good man.”
3. Clear Expectations
Clear expectations are like clear goals, but different. Clear goals are about desired outcomes and clear expectations are about what kind of people they need to be to achieve the desired outcomes. What are their values? What are their standards? How do they need to show up?
These clear expectations became the hierarchy of rules in our home as outlined below, which hangs in the kids’ rooms. If they want to enjoy the “LET’S HAVE FUN!”, the previous five expectations have to be met in some reasonable fashion.
- Respect others
- Family First
- School Stuff
- Do what you’re asked
- LET’s HAVE FUN!
Remember, the end result is that your kids are confident. Confident people see and react to the world differently. They see things more productively and will handle life’s adversities better. By establishing clear roles, clear goals, and clear expectations you are creating a culture within your home of love and stability. They know they are the child and you are the parent. They understand what the goals are and why they are important. They understand how they need to do things and show up to be successful.
In closing, I’ll share a note my daughter posted on my Facebook page a couple of months ago, that for me brings everything full circle.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my main man and role model. Words can’t express how thankful I am to have such a strong, confident, passionate, and hilarious (sometimes) father in my life. Without you, I wouldn’t have the expectations that I have for myself today, nor the values and need to help others and make a difference. You have inspired me to do so much with my life, and I know I can go to you for anything and you’ll tell me what to do (whether I like to hear it or not). Thank you for pushing me to try hard and take risks, and mainly for shaping me into the person I am today. So, here’s to you! I love you more than anything in the world! Happy birthday.”
This stuff is the foundation of every successful company, team, and family. Parenting can feel like a contact sport and you must play to win. In my opinion, winning is raising confident children without loosing your mind.
If you have other tips you would like to share, feel free to do so in the comment section below.
Featured photo credit: Mother and son huddle together winter portrait, closeup via shutterstock.com