Jeff Brazier’s EXCLUSIVE parenting column: How to encourage your children to have more confidence

"It's not hard to write about something of a parenting nature when you have kids, so much happens in a week!


by Jack White |
Published on

My youngest [Freddie] behaved badly on a school outing this week, it seemed to be an attempt to look grown up in front of others, something he and many others, I'm sure, have a habit of doing at the age of 10.

I sat down with him, took the non-judgemental yet silently disapproving angle, asking questions so he could shed his own light on the reason he acted inappropriately.

Interestingly it led us to the understanding that he sees himself as being only 5/10 when it comes to confidence.

When I asked him if he would feel such a need to impress others by misbehaving if he was 8/10 confident, he could see how the happier you are in yourself the less need there was to please people.

Jeff in working in Vegas last week...
Jeff in working in Vegas last week...

Although he couldn't verbalise this, he could see that there was some compensating going on for what he felt he lacked.

He cooperatively wrote out his letter to the teacher he sadly let down, and I quietly considered how I could help to increase his confidence and self esteem from a 5 to an 8.

As parents we might sometimes do the punishing part but not follow up with any constructive support which would enable them to move forwards.

Every mistake we make is a valuable lesson, an example we can learn from. Point a finger or raise a voice, the barriers come up and the lesson is lost but, take the following approach and, with me, you can also improve your child's ability to outgrow certain behaviours.

Firstly, what not to do..

1 Stop judging..

Forgivable as it is, seeing as we've been judged all our lives and are therefore conditioned to doing exactly the same with our little munchkins, it does nothing to empower your child and only feeds your ego to be able to subconsciously say 'I told you so’. How can a child know what an adult would do?

Replace the judgemental statements with open, unassuming questions lacking in sarcasm or disapproval to encourage your child to talk freely and honestly whilst enabling them to find their own reasoning, solutions and apologies for themselves.

If they find them, they own them and are subsequently so much more likely to hold on to that new knowledge which might just help them avoid the situation next time.

His youngest, Freddie, got into trouble at school this week

2 Turn the vacuum off..

This isn't referring to doing the housework when you could be having family time, rather that we need to be acutely aware of the influences or influencers that seem to drain your child's self esteem.

Do you have a teenage girl that compares herself to the photoshopped bikini-clad celebs in the magazines to detrimental effect? Whilst I know it's all around us and it would be hard to say 'don't look at them’, it would be enough of a start to realise a conversation with her would be beneficial to highlight that these beautiful women do not represent real life.

Looking closer to home, I think Freddy picks up a few bad habits from older children he sometimes plays with around the area we live in: this is something I can restrict with best intentions so as to limit the bad influences which may be affecting his sense of self.

3 Mind your Language..

Words are like a wonderful gift if used constructively, or like a weapon with poisonous effects when aimed carelessly. Our children are to an extent exactly what we tell them they are.

Ideally we would always use encouraging, empowering and reassuring words when communicating with them, constantly reinforcing that they can do whatever they put their mind to and gaining their own healthy sense of boundaries and limitations.

It is however very possible for parents to discourage, deflate and undermine, stripping confidence with every poorly constructed sentence which in truth comes from a place of self disapproval in the way we are failing to cope with things. Don't be the one doing the limiting, be aware of your language, there is a positive way to say everything.

Rather than punishment, Jeff focused on how to build Freddie's confidence

Thats enough of the don’ts, lets focus on the do's – here's what to promote on a daily basis.

4 Walk the walk..

Be that shining example. If we are kind and considerate, polite and helpful, loving and communicative then there is obviously a good chance our children will take on these traits, because that is the message being given to them on a daily basis.

Children learn everything from us – we are their guide, their YouTube channel, their book, their reflection and their inspiration… make it a good one!

Again reflecting on what I can do to improve his sense of socially acceptable behaviour, I don't have many people over for dinner, whilst I love to cook we are often so busy with clubs and homework that having dinner parties just seems like an effort.

However if I have him around more adults who are showing him how to poke fun at each other in the right way then that can only help.

Jeff knows his children follow his lead, so always tries to set a good example

5 Repeat after me..

If you've never heard of affirmations they are a bit like doing your times table when you're younger: repetition leads to them becoming ingrained in your head giving you a confidence that you just know them.

This works exactly the same but with words replacing the numbers. Take Freddy as our example, I will encourage him to say 'I'm confident in myself because I'm a very caring boy who makes everyone laugh which makes me special', when he has said this say 50 times a day for a week it becomes more of a belief than a collection of words you were asked to say.

Fortunately, there is an opposite for every negative statement (I bet you could come up with three straight away). Find the positive equivalent of whichever way you or your kids use words to devalue yourselves and repeat them during the day.

6 Their gratitude determines their latitude

Make them see the brighter side every bedtime by playing a little game that I've always played with my two. Each night at bedtime ask each other what five things you have been grateful for that day.

At first it might be a bit of a struggle to come up with five but after a little practice you'll realise it is really easy to get in tune with what's good about you and out of the old habit of seeing what isn't good around you.

It's just a matter of perspective and sometimes life teaches us to see the worst, it's all reversible though!"

This is the best way of making your child more glass half full than half empty, less concerns equal less stress and less of that means they're only left with the ingredients for a more confident outlook, all by just playing a game!

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