Everyday Ideas for Raising Confident Kids

Confidence looks like many different things to each of us. For some, it can mean decisiveness. For others, it’s bravery or authenticity. In the compilation book, EmbodyKind, I write that I hope to instill a confidence in my daughter that looks like “using her voice, trusting her instincts and speaking her truth.” These are the benchmarks my husband and I check in with often when making parenting decisions. How is my family (sometimes) successful in this journey to a confident kid? Here are a few methods we’ve adopted in our family:

Offer Language that Promotes Emotional Learning

One of our favorite family rituals is our 5 Daily Questions. This standard part of our bedtime routine came about because my husband and I were interested in our daughter’s favorite and least favorite parts of her day. We were regularly fascinated with what she had to say, but as it turns out, she was also interested in how we experienced our days as well.  5 Daily Questions has now evolved into: 

  • What was your favorite part of today?
  • What was your least favorite part of today?
  • What was something that felt challenging today, and how can you improve a little on that tomorrow?
  • What are you proud of yourself for today?
  • What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

This a great way to understand how your kid sees their world. It also allows them to hear how you talk about your day and how you move through the world. My daughter often hears me talk about my own need to improve upon patience or handling my big feelings with more kindness. She hears me say I’m proud that I stood up for myself or said a hard thing. This type of conversation breeds the language it takes for kids to use their voices confidently and without it feeling like a lesson. It also gives you a chance to reinforce how to work on their challenges along with celebrating the positive things they say about themselves, which is extremely important in building confidence.

Meet Your Kids Where They’re at and Honor Their Vulnerabilities

As parents who have experienced the world’s unkindness throughout our lives, it can be tough for us to watch our kids make choices that may “other” them. We may even be compelled by our own discomfort to urge them to participate in something they’re not ready to do or that may not feel natural for them. But if your child is strongly expressing to you that they don’t want to participate in Pajama Wednesdays at school because they prefer dresses, meeting them where they’re at on that topic, may be the most confidence-boosting thing you can do.

Using this example, my first instinct was to convince her that she should wear pajamas because everyone else will be. Once I chose to hear her resistance as a proclamation that she is more comfortable and confident when she wears dresses, I stepped back. I calmly explained that a lot of kids will be wearing pajamas on Wednesdays and if she prefers not to that, dresses will be ok too. Giving her all the information and allowing her to make her own decision provides her the opportunity to be even more confident going into a moment where she is going to stand out in the crowd, which can feel very vulnerable, as most adults know.

Prepare Them for New Experiences

“When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do.” If reading those words brings a very specific jingle to mind, then you might be a family that loves the show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It might be designed for kids, but Daniel Tiger teaches parents a lot of useful things, if you’re open to hearing them. The idea behind the tune is that if we prepare our kids for new experiences like starting school or going to the doctor, they will head into those experiences feeling more confident.

This has absolutely been true for our family. Our biggest success story is the dentist. We intentionally act out and explain dentist visits to our daughter. We used pictures, props, and sounds before she ever went to the dentist. That way, she is able to become an excited patient, instead of a fearful one. It didn’t happen overnight though. We start this process about a week before each appointment, since they only happen a few times per year. Each time, she remembers more and even explains the visits to us. Not being surprised by new sounds, people, sights, and feelings offers our kids the chance to feel in control of their experience in new spaces. For our daughter, this has provided her a sense of pride and confidence. 

What’s Your Plan?

With an almost five-year-old, the number of times we find ourselves saying, “Be careful,” has become overwhelming. I notice it more and more and wonder if instead of a cautious child, we’re creating a paranoid one. Based on some advice from HappiestBaby.commy husband and I started taking a different approach. We’ve adopted the “What’s your plan?” model. We now using questions like, “What’s your plan for getting out from under the dinner table without hitting your head?” Or, “What’s your plan for not spilling your milk on the couch?” 

When she’s asked to think of her own solutions to potentially sticky situations, she’s perfectly capable and often surprises us with how rational her ideas are. We then get to reply with, “Wow, that’s a smart idea. Thanks!” We’re becoming more confident in her capabilities and she’s becoming more confident that her instincts will keep her safe.

These confidence-creating behaviors aren’t novel or unique to our family. For clarity, our kid is NOT confident in all facets of her life. In fact, we shamelessly stole most of them from families we admire or parenting experts. The intention it takes to put them consistently into practice is what can be difficult or frustrating. Create a chart or make a banner if that is what it takes. When they’re confident, you will become more confident in them. Then your mind will be a little less full of worry and a little fuller of pride. Good Luck!

Kristin Ray
Kristin is a children’s author, blogger, and public speaker. She is the proud mother of one amazing daughter and wife to a supremely supportive husband. She is dedicated to intentionally equipping women and girls with the knowledge and power to move through life with confidence. Kristin is a native of Lansing, Michigan, and a graduate of Michigan State University.


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