I don’t know about you, but I really hope my kids grow up with the kind of kick-ass CANDo attitude that will help them go-get the life they want when they become adults. Whether they do end up CANDo go-getters will be down largely to me:
1) making sure they grow up feeling good about themselves (when they succeed and when they fail); and
2) encouraging them to truly BELIEVE they can become, do and achieve what they set their sights on.
If kids can grow up with these two key skills they’ll be less likely to balk at the idea of trying new things and setting out and going for their goals. What’s more, if they fail, they’ll be more inclined to pick themselves up, brush themselves off and try again.
It’s also useful to understand the difference between having a healthy self-esteem and being self-confident. Personally, I like to look at it as having a strong, healthy, super effective Inner Imp Self-Esteem who is part of my being/make up/inner team and then watching my Inner Imp Self Esteem doing things in with self-confidence. The more my Self Esteem Inner Imp and I experience doing or practicing something, the more confident we become at doing it. Like a circle however, the more self confident I become the stronger and more effective my Self Esteem Inner Imp becomes.
So what CANDoables do we have at our disposal to help boost the self-esteems of our children and encourage these skills and traits to flourish?
1. Stop Wrapping Them Up in Cotton Wool
Today’s tendency is to wrap our kids up and protect them. Don’t touch that you’ll burn yourself; don’t climb too high you’ll fall; come away from that puddle you’ll get wet; don’t read that book it’s too difficult and you’ll get frustrated; play with this boy he’s nicer. We wade in at every opportunity to save our kids from any hurt, disappointment or negative experience (and if we’re not doing it, ‘elf and safety are poking their noses in to avoid companies have to pay big fat legal fees or insurance claims). What’s sad however, is that it’s these negative experiences that help kids develop their own logic and gain the confidence that, even if something bad happens, they CAN brush THEMSELVES off, stand up and try something else. Confidence and self esteem comes from trying, failing, accepting and then trying again (on your own). Sure protect your kids from the biggies but let them experience a good proportion of the smallies too (that should get progressively bigger as they grow and their skills develop). One day, they’re going to be on their own trying to deal with their own life experiences; make sure you’re equipping them with the resources to make their decision effective and responsible ones.
2. Teach them Self-Reliance
At the end of the day, the only person anyone can rely on is himself. Stop shoving the forgotten sports bag in their arms as they dash out the door. Stop chasing after the school bus with their lunch box. Stop wading in when they bicker and fight amongst themselves (unless there’s obvious unfair advantage on one side). Stop finishing off that bit of a forgotten school essay for them. It’s all these failures that help make kids self-reliant. These “experiences” teach them how to take care of themselves.
3. Have them Experience Failure and Consequences
Stop trying to shield them from the consequences of their own actions (some of the above are examples of ways we do this). If you learn to “let go” of their strings, you’ll be teaching them that THEY are the ones in control of the consequences of their actions.
4. Stop Over-Functioning
Stop doing things for your kids that they are quite capable of doing for themselves. We often help our kids dress, tie their shoelaces, put their coats on, etc. because we’re short on time and it’s quicker to do it ourselves. Likewise, we’ll tidy their room because we don’t want to listen to the whining; we’ll bake the cake ourselves (if we don’t cave in completely and buy a pre-made from the bakers) rather than have the kids make a mess in the kitchen; we’ll make them a snack such as toast or a sandwich, even though they’re quite capable of doing this for themselves. Teach them to be self-reliant and help themselves rather than relying on others to do stuff for them.
5. Spend Time with your Kids
It may seem obvious, but sometimes what they need is to have you spend QUALITY time with them doing something they and you like together. It tells them that you believe they are important and worthy of your love and this, in turn, helps them believe that they are important and worthy of your love (and that of other people).
Having a healthy Self Esteem Inner Imp that’s brimming with self-confidence is one of the best ways you can protect your child now and in the future when he/she is out in the big bad world alone. Helping them experience and deal with little (acceptable) hurts now will make them self-reliant, confident masters at protecting themselves when they are older.
What are you doing to put a little muscle on your child’s Self-Esteem Inner Imp? Leave a comment below for the benefit of other readers or drop me an email, I’d really like to hear from you.
Life Skills for Children (and adults) are essential. If you like what you’re reading, why not sign up for a regular dose with our CANDo Get-Up and Go-Go Newsletter.