Thursday, January 12, 2017

How to help my child be more self-confident

Are you trying to be Mr. or Mrs. Perfect for your child? My advice is: DROP IT. RIGHT AWAY. If you want to strengthen your child's self-confidence, then be ready to let them know how imperfect you truly are.  

How to help your child feel loved
Children raised by these so-called “Perfect Parents”, with the Perfectly Clean House, and Perfectly Ironed Clothes, with their Perfect Careers and Perfect Family, end up becoming very insecure and unhappy grownups, with serious anger management issues and resentments that may later degenerate into something worse.

Children need to feel accepted and valued by their parents for whom they are. They need to know their parents are already the proudest on Earth. If your child is somehow feeling he or she is not “meeting” your high standards or expectations, then you are on the wrong path. If you look PERFECT before his or her eyes, if you don’t tumble and fall when you play, if you don’t make any mistakes, then you may need to make some adjustments to help your child feel more confident, accepted and LOVED.

These are some specific tips from a previously SUPER PERFECTIONIST and PICKY MOM that evolved into this RELAXED HAPPY MOM of a WONDERFULLY SELF-CONFIDENT AND HAPPY CHILD:

How to help my child feel loved
1)   Have at least 20 minutes of REAL PLAY every day with your child. This translates into turning OFF your phone and sitting (or laying) on the floor to play whatever your child tells you to play. You let him or she choose. Let him or she have the control on those 20 minutes. Your child sets the play rules and you follow, restraining yourself from making any suggestions (or comments) to make it a better or more educational game.

2)  Make mistakes, on purpose. If you are coloring together, make sure you color outside the lines. If you are working on a puzzle, don’t forget to try really hard to put the wrong pieces together. If you are playing some “balance” game, please make sure you fall on the floor and laugh about it. When you let your child win some battles, you are nurturing his or her self-esteem.

3)  Let your child know you make many mistakes, you don’t have all the answers and you are ok with it. I believe the important lesson is: “I am not perfect. We moms (or dads) are not perfect, we make many mistakes. And you know, it is ok because EVERYONE makes mistakes”. I don’t know who came up with this stupid idea of us parents having to know every answer to every question to “spread” confidence among our children. I think it is better to look for answers together. For example, “Why is it that Dragons don’t get burned when they breathe fire?”

4)    Let your child see you are always doing your best, even though things don’t end up exactly as you want them to. I did my best to make this superb Kung Fu Panda (Chicken Noodle) Soup for my child. I worked really hard on picking the right ingredients when we were doing the groceries together, I chopped the vegetables trying to make them have the perfect bite size and I even sang while I was doing my cooking. At dinner, my child and I tasted the soup and it was very bad. I just started laughing and said: “I tried so hard to make the perfect soup and I forgot to put salt in it”. She laughed loudly too. It’s been months since then. She still remembers that day and laughs every time. But when she’s done laughing, she adds: “It is OK you know? You tried really hard and we had fun”.

5)    Lose it. Choose you battles wisely and let your child win sometimes. Children do no need to take a bath every day and they certainly can stay for weeks without washing their hair before they start stinking. Their bodies are not made to work like robots, so they are not supposed to sleep at the same hour every day and always eat the same amount of food. They sleep when they are tired and eat when they are hungry. And nothing wrong happens when they dress “Wacky-Tacky” style; let’s face it, your child isn’t yet a CEO. 

6)    Be reasonable. Talk about it instead of “Making-it-happen”. Why does your child have to Clean Up after playing? It shouldn’t be just because you are a Perfectionist. Explain him or her the real practical reasons:
·       “We put everything back where it belongs so that you can find your toys when you need them. I have noticed you get worried when you can’t find something”.
·       “We pick up the Lego Pieces from the floor so that our feet won’t hurt if we accidently step on one of them”.
·       “We clean the table after we eat because we do not want to get invaded by cockroaches”.
·       “We wash our hands because we don't want an ugly worm living in our tummies”.

7)    Let your child face the natural consequences arising from his or her choices. My child did not want to put her dirty clothes in the hamper. I explained her only the clothes placed in the hamper get into the laundry room. She did not pick her clothes from the floor, so she had to wear her Pre-K uniform as Pajamas and also she had to wear them for a Birthday Party. She learned there are consequences for not following the Laundry Rules.   

Let it show how much you like playing like if you both had the same age, like if you were only a child again. Let him or she see there’s no other place you’d rather be at this time because there is nothing better than having so much fun together. Your child perception will be: Mom (or Dad) loves me.

Keep in mind you’ve been given the opportunity to be a child again. Only this time you set the rules. Pick up what you would change from your childhood, and make it different. Do your best. Do make a list. And do dare to make all those changes for you and your child. Enjoy!

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