Your son is on the floor, arms and legs flailing. Crying and screaming at the top of his lungs. He’s been like this for 10 minutes already.
If you could read his mind in this moment, he might be thinking, “Mom! Please help me! I’m feeling so disappointed. I want to stop crying, but I don’t know how. Help!”
Your daughter gets in the car after school. You can tell something’s not quite right, but she says she doesn’t want to talk.
If you could read her mind in this moment, she might be thinking: “I want to tell you, but I’m not sure you can handle it. Remember last time, you started crying? I need to protect you.”
Your kids need you.
But not just any “you.” They need a confident “you.”
Confidence is key to parenting well. When you display confidence, your child feels free to be a kid. They feel safe expressing big feelings because they know you can handle them.
They are not worried about hurting your feelings or having to take care of you. They are free to grow and develop without these burdens.
Confidence in parenting doesn’t mean you always know what to say or how to respond. It doesn’t mean that you have all of the answers. And it doesn’t mean that you never become upset or make mistakes.
Being confident in your parenting means that you send the message to your child: “I’ve got this. I’ve got you. Big feelings are scary and you do not need to face them alone.”
It also means, “I am in control of my own emotions. I do not expect you to take care of me or need to act a certain way so I feel better.”
How to display confidence as a parent:
- Positive self-talk in the moment: Go into the situation with a confident mindset. Repeat a positive mantra, such as, “This is not an emergency,” or “My child needs my help.” Take a few deep breaths before responding to a heated situation.
- Keep your emotions in check: If your anger is getting too big or you are feeling out of control, step back and take a break until you feel more calm. Own your emotions: “Mommy is feeling sad,” vs. “You made me feel sad!”
- Monitor your voice: A confident parent can be firm and kind at the same time. If you tend to yell, you may need to lower your volume. If you are a quiet, passive parent, you may need to work on raising your volume slightly.
- Check your posture: Body language is an important part of being confident. Again, it is a mix of assertive and empathetic. Instead of towering over your child, get down to their level. Instead of throwing your hands up in defeat, open your arms to your child for a hug.
- Use phrases that show you are in control: Remind your child that you can handle their big feelings: “I can tell you are upset. Do you want to talk about it?” Or, “Look at those big tears. Come here, let’s cuddle for a few minutes.”
- Find power in “being:” There will be times when you do not know what to do, but don’t let this shake your confidence. No one knows how to respond all of the time. Commit to just being with your child in their feelings, instead of finding a solution.
- Get support for yourself: If feeling confident is challenging for you right now, that’s ok. Reaching out to a friend, having a night out to feel refreshed, or seeking help from a mental health professional may help you head in the right direction.
A confident parent is calm, firm, and empathetic. They don’t need to yell at or bribe their kids. They are in charge because they are the adult. They don’t have to prove anything to the child or try to be something they are not.
But, they are not perfect.
Finding your confidence as a parent may take time, practice, and a little trial and error. Be patient with yourself as you start to feel comfortable in this role.
Eventually, you will see a challenging situation as an opportunity to be the confident center your child needs.
Check out Nicole’s book Positive Parenting for Imperfect Families
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