One Word To Boost Your Child’s Confidence

One Word To Boost Your Child’s Confidence

Often, what holds children back from trying something new is fear of failure or the memory of a time they didn’t do well on something. We can help break that cycle by avoiding evaluative statements such as “good job” and opt to use encouraging words instead and offering our children opportunities to try things again…and again…and again!

how to boost kids confidence

“I can’t do it!” said my 3 year old daughter as she struggled with her t-shirt.

“Yet – you haven’t figured it out just yet. I saw you trying.” was my answer. “Would you like more time to work on that?”

“Yes!” My daughter tried again and struggled again. She poked her arms through the neckline, she took her shirt off again and sat there, looking at me in her swim suit and completely frustrated. “Nope….not yet mama….”

“Not yet, sweet pea!” I said.

“Ughghgh…. I try ONE more time!!”  offered my daughter, not quite happy but not willing to give up either.

I sat down and waited. I started reading a book and then…a little smile showed up right in my face, with her t-shirt on, she took her hands and placed them on my cheeks “DONE MAMA!” and she walked away singing.

“Yet” is a really powerful word. It can infuse hope and encouragement into a child that is struggling or doubting herself.

It’s tempting to jump in and DO for our children. Sometimes time is ticking and we just don’t feel like we can wait. But…Children can and do acquire  problem-solving skills, confidence and grit through experience. Trying, failing, trying again.

Sometimes children will choose to give up and revisit another day…that’s ok too. We don’t need to force, bribe or make wild promises. If we offer trust, patience and encouragement, our child’s own successes will be their biggest motivators.

Our words as parents though can really have an impact on how children choose to move forward.  “That’s not right”, “hold it! let me do that for you”, “that’s not how it’s done” can be discouraging.  On the other hand “not YET”, “I see you trying”, “you can’t do it YET, want to try again?” “want more time to work on that?” can be very encouraging.

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck explains in this video why “YET”  is a fantastic and encouraging word and a great confidence booster!

So, what words do you choose for encouraging your child when she is struggling?

Peace & Be Well,
Ariadne

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

7 Responses to One Word To Boost Your Child’s Confidence

  1. Wonderful! It’s so much easier and faster to jump in and help them with a task that they’re struggling with, but I completely agree that with a little encouragement and patience, their self-confidence and the feeling of accomplishment are so rewarding when we chose to encourage them instead of running to their rescue. Thanks for sharing such a great post! I’m pinning to my “parenting” board.

    • Thank you Jackie for taking the time to stop by! I hear you, it can be really tough to sit back and wait, sometimes I have to whisper to myself “have patience….have more patience…” 🙂

  2. Thank you very much for this positive post! I practice positive reinforcement with my three children and I can say that it is really a pleasure to see them succeed. Like every parent I have moments where I would like to “help” more than I should, but then I just lean back and observe them and really admire them doing things by themselves. It took me a while to learn this (while=months/a year?) but it’s worth it. Like you say in your last response, I have to tell myself “be patient, be patient” or “wait, take a deep breath and count to ten (or twenty…)” and it works. Thanks a lot for writing this.

    • Ute,
      Watching children figure things out for themselves can be such a magical moment in parenting, well at least I think so all the time 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your experience with this as well!

  3. I love this article and it’s a great reminder for encouragement when my children are learning something new. I have a question and would like to hear your thoughts – – what about when they are older (like my 5 year old boy) and they have demonstrated mastery of a skill, but are having a bad day and use the old, “I can’t do it” tactic? I know for a fact that he is perfectly capable of getting dressed on his own and normally does. But on days when he swears he can’t do it himself, what’s the best response?

    • Hi Susan,
      I think in such a situation when children suddenly “forget” how to do a task they have mastered they are seeking ways to connect with us but aren’t sure how to communicate that (it’s not really a manipulation but a sincere need for more support). One thing that can help a lot is asking questions or offering to keep company but not really do the task in the example of not getting dressed it could work to offer for example “Alright, you can bring your clothes and get dressed here near me or I can sit on your bed and keep you company, which would you prefer?” or a compromise “how about you do everything except the buttons, I will close those up for you today, find me when you are ready for buttons!” or if you really don’t have the time or inclination to help “I am so sure you can do this on your own, find me when you are done so I can see!” Five is still little, even if we forget that sometimes, the need for being “cared for” is legitimate, I think it is ok if not important to be flexible!

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