Finding yourself to help your kids grow in confidence

Published on: May 27, 2019

Picture this: you’re in the grocery store, when you see an old friend from high school at the other end of the aisle. The two of you were actually really good pals, but you lost touch over the years. You turn to walk towards them but then you remember that you’ve spent the better part of your day cleaning out the garage; you’re wearing stained sweatpants and dusty sneakers and you’re really not looking your best. Your old friend, on the other hand, is dressed to the nines.

You decide to approach them anyways, and end up making plans to meet at the park with your respective families the following weekend.

What happened? Fear almost got in the way of you reconnecting with an old friend – but your self-confidence won!

Teenagers dressed in bright colours in front of the Muskoka Woods sign

What is Confidence?

Many people equate confidence with being extroverted, outgoing and the life of the party – but that’s not always the case.

Confidence can mean knowing who you are, and who you are meant to be.  -for sharing

Confidence is overcoming fear to be your best self.

Confidence comes from knowing who you are, and how to be good at being who you are.

Confidence goes hand-in-hand with self-acceptance and self-love. When you stop trying to be someone you’re not, when you come to understand who you are and what you’re good at – then you can become confident in yourself.

How does confidence benefit you?

Confidence can be a direct path to joy. It means that you have a good sense of self, you know who you are, and you can work towards becoming who you are meant to be. Confidence gives you the ability to influence others for the better, to become a leader in your own way, and to live a joy-filled life, to find fulfillment and experience happiness despite circumstances.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Theodore Roosevelt was right – Don’t worry about the successes of others, don’t measure yourself against their standards! As long as you know who you are, and focus on who you’re supposed to be, you can be confident and keep that joy in your heart.

So, what does all of this have to do with my family?

Being confident in yourself gives you the opportunity to guide your child in their journey to confidence. You can support, encourage, and model confidence for your kids. But what does that even mean? Read on for ways that you can help your child become more confident.

A young girl with faceprint on a waterslide

Empowering your child through expectations

You only want the very best for your child, and so you do everything to help pave the way for their success. When they have an exam coming up, you clear the table after dinner (even though it’s their turn) and put away all of their random belongings around the house. Soccer tournament weekend? You’re making sure to lay out their uniform on Friday night and clean their cleats, too.

But giving your kids some responsibility (and holding them accountable even when life gets hectic) can build a sense of interdependence within your family,  and in turn, build their confidence.

Giving your kids responsibilities tells them, “Hey! You are a member of this family, and you’re important! We rely on you, and you can rely on us. We all work together, and we all need each other.”

If it’s your daughter’s turn to mow the lawn, she should know that you’re relying on her to do that. Every time she meets that expectation, she proves to you and to herself, that she is reliable, and that builds her confidence and self-worth.

Being authentic as a parent, especially with teens

Kids are very observant, and they can tell when you’re not being fully upfront with them. Honesty and authenticity will not only help bring you closer as a family, but it will help your child to grow in confidence.

Of course, there are some truths of adulthood that don’t need to be shared with our kids. But you also don’t have to shelter him from everything. Be honest about age-appropriate truths with your kids, and you’ll see that your honesty and trust in them is a confidence-booster.

A girl uses the monkey bars on the wit to swing

Believe in your kids. Be there for your kids!

Your family is busy, and it’s not easy to make it to your daughter’s hockey game every Thursday evening (plus, your favourite TV shows are on that night)! But she notices when you’re there, and she hears you cheering her on.

Making sure to be there for every game is an act of intentional parenting. More than being practical (it’s your turn for the carpool!), you’re fully present – watching the game and offering positive reinforcement, making sure your child feels your love and encouragement. When they win the game, you’re there to congratulate. When they lose, you’re there to let them know it’s okay to lose sometimes.

There’s no replacement for that feeling of having your parents believe in you.

Modelling confidence to help your kids grow in confidence

Although many teens especially will deny it, studies and surveys show that the biggest role models in young people’s lives are still their parents. And they notice when you’re happy and confident! Do you want to raise kids who are confident and living joyfully? Then show them the way, and do things that make you happy!

Here are some ways you can do that:

Try things outside of your comfort zone

You do NOT like to dance, and your kids know it. Not only do you have two left feet, but you have a reputation as the person who Does. Not. Dance.

One night your spouse comes home with an invitation to her friend’s new dance studio. She’s interested in the salsa classes. Do you stay home with the kids, or do you get a babysitter and go together to the class?  

Knowing who you are and being confident in your abilities might tempt you into being closed off to new activities. It’s okay, you’re good at tons of cool stuff, you don’t also have to be a great dancer. But when you decide you don’t like something without even trying, you could be modelling self-doubt. Why not give the salsa classes a try? Maybe you’ll be great with some guidance! And if you’re not? Oh well – you didn’t lose anything by trying, and maybe you’ll even have a laugh.

The willingness to try new things, even when you’re pretty sure you won’t like them, shows your kids that you’re happy enough with who you are that you don’t mind trying something new- you might be bad at it, and so what? You might be good at it, and find one more thing to be confident about!

young boys and girls use scooters in front of a lake

Fail with grace

Nobody is perfect.

I’ll say it again for the people in the back: NOBODY IS PERFECT!

We all fail sometimes, and yes – it is inevitable. What is going to help you and your children to live with confidence and be authentic to yourselves, is to fail with grace. Know that it’s okay to fall down. Get back up and try again.

And when you’ve tried and tried – you can move on! If something really isn’t for you, it’s okay to accept that and stop trying. This doesn’t mean that you’ve given up, but rather that you can recognize and accept that something isn’t for you.

Your kids see this grit and tenacity, and know that they can be like mom or dad – trying confidently, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but always knowing that everything will be okay either way. – for sharing

Celebrate the wins

Just like we all fail sometimes, the opposite is true – sometimes things really go our way! And you can revel in those moments. When you get a promotion at work, it’s okay to be proud of yourself, and to tell your kids that nice guys don’t finish last, hard work pays off – this is the moment to show your kids that you’re happy with who you are and where that’s helped you to get in life!

Don’t try to be someone you’re not

This one is important. It’s normal to go through ups and downs, and we all have seasons of life where we’re not feeling like our best selves. Some of us go through phases of trying out new things (which is great!) but sometimes things can take a left turn and we wind up not being true to ourselves.

Trust yourself and your knowledge of who you really are – and you’ll be a confident, fulfilled and joyful parent. Your kids see this modelled and know that they can trust themselves and be true to who they are to feel that same fulfillment in their lives.

About the Author

Paul Cade has been a part of Muskoka Woods since his first summer as guest in 1996. He spent time working in the kitchen, on Water Ski Staff, as the General Athletics Area Head, as a Staff Coach and an Athletic Director for three years. Paul graduated with a Recreation and Leisure Studies diploma at Humber College and was a recent graduate of the Arrow Leadership program. He has been overseeing the Muskoka Woods Summer Camp since 2016 and prior to that he spent 6 years working as a full-time youth pastor in Oakville and Ajax. Paul has a passion for developing young leaders for today and the future. Paul met the love of his life Victoria at Muskoka Woods in 2006. They are married with three young children.

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