- EXPRESS YOUR LOVE: We all love our children a lot but it may not be as easy for some of us to express it. Our children need to know and need to be reminded every day that we love them. Express your love in all ways: through physical touch (hugs, cuddles, kisses), by spending quality time with them(reading, playing or chatting with them), getting them small gifts and surprises, by listening to them and looking them in their eyes and all the other ways you can think of.
- ENCOURAGE THEM: It is one of the most important duties as a parent to encourage our kids to try on new experiences; this will help them develop confidence to try new things when they grow up. This will prepare them for facing the unknown. Encourage your child to participate in various new activities.
Some parents complain to me: “My child keeps changing his interests. One month he wants to learn skating and the next month he wants to take dance lessons. We are frustrated and would like him to decide on one activity, continue it and master it.”
I understand the frustration of parents but isn’t it exciting that our child is wishing to explore new activities and experience them before making a choice. Aren’t most of us adults too unsure of what we really really like? How many skills have we mastered as hobbies? Is it not too much to ask from a child to decide and pursue one hobby without trying another.
Of course, I know of some children who are very clear from an early age about their choices and hobbies. But each child is unique and that is the beauty.
- PRAISE THEM: Our kids look up to us for positive feedback. The self-worth of younger ones comes from our approval, so we must positively reinforce all their efforts and praise them where praise is due. This will help them develop a balanced and realistic outlook towards their strengths and weaknesses and life in general.
So, I praise my son’s cooking abilities since he is good at it and praise the “effort” and “patience” he applies in painting since he is not a very good painter. Do not dish out praise that they are unworthy of but always have a kind word of encouragement.
I try and use the “Sandwich Approach” while giving feedback to anyone. Like the other day I told my cook at home, “Hey you made very good chapattis yesterday (the positive bread first) but the sabji could have done with a bit less salt (the negative feedback) , everyone enjoyed the vegetable raita you made for dinner. (Follow it up with a kind word: positive-negative feedback with suggestion of what could have been better –followed by positive reinforcement.)
- TEACH THEM RESILIENCE: When we were growing up we were taught to try and try and keep trying till we succeed. I understand the benefits of teaching kids not to give up easily and yet not everyone succeeds at everything. Hence, I see the requirement of teaching kids to be resilient in today’s world.
When the child fails or is unsuccessful in anything, first of all it is imperative for us to validate their feelings of sadness, anger or unhappiness. This will teach them to accept their feelings and also to share them with you. Then teach them how to change these hurdles into learning experiences and make the best out of them.
I have seen many a parent take failures in examination of their child so much at heart that they are unable to console the child and show him a way forward. It is not the end of the road, life doesn’t end there.
- INCULCATE INDEPENDENCE: I love to use and recommend “Scaffolding” (See Zone of Proximal Development by Lev Vygotsky) while teaching kids to become independent.
How do I do this?
- I create a safe environment for my child to learn something new.
- Demonstrate how it is done slowly while mentioning the necessary steps.
- Mention things to be taken care of while performing the task.
- Let him repeat the activity without jumping or saying too much in between. (Unless it may harm him.)
- When the activity is done, we sit together and talk about what HE has done right and what WE could have done better.
The activity could be as simple as making a sandwich. I demonstrate the steps to make a sandwich, things to take care of while using knife and oven or sandwich maker, let him make a sandwich while watching on the side-lines and then evaluate OUR performance. Since we are evaluating OUR performance as a team, he doesn’t feel left out or cornered and is far more open to receive feedback.
These are the steps I have used time and again to ensure that kids around me are brimming with confidence. Hope these give you some practical and doable ideas with your own family. Please write your experiences in the comment section below, would love to hear from YOU.
The author of this article, Kshama Dudpuri is an enthusiastic reader and writer,education influencer, founder of POISE7 and wants to bring a change in the compassion meter in this world.