A mother of 4 once told me if she could go back and change one thing, she would celebrate her children as they are instead of constantly trying to change them. For example, a mother might plead with her introverted child to go play with the others when she’s naturally more comfortable on her own. A dad might beg his book-loving son to play ball. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting our kids to be the best they can be, it’s also important to celebrate them for who they are naturally. Finding that perfect balance of celebrating and accepting our child while still encouraging them to shine so bright is a challenge indeed. But, there’s no arguing that confidence is an important characteristic that can be taught over time, like coaxing a plant to flower with just the right amount of water and sunshine. Here are 5 every day micro-changes you can include in your daily interactions to help your preschooler beam with pride!
- Opinons Matter Ask your preschooler’s opinion about any subject you’re talking about. Example “Do you think the weather is going to be cold today?” Show that you value their opinion by bringing it up later – “Leo thinks it’s going to be cold today, so we are wearing our hats.”
- Zero In. Focus and pinpoint on particular traits when speaking to your preschooler. Change your vocabulary; change their perception! Instead of doling out generic compliments like “Good job,” or “Way to go,” try to focus on one particular character trait you want your preschooler to feel good about!
- “You worked really hard on that, you are a hard worker!”
- “You don’t miss anything, do you? You are so good a noticing details”
- “I saw the way your tower fell over and you built it again. You are so persistent!”
- Encourage Artistic & Athletic Endeavors Encourage your budding artist to express themselves artistically and/or athletically. This could mean arts, crafts, picking out their own clothes, or showing a pointed interest in their stories and songs. Celebrate their sense of self as they create! Notice how they express themselves and when they seem happiest and let them run with it. Make them glow with pride as you showcase their creation or achievement somewhere prominent! TIP: Allow them to overhear you telling others how proud you are of their artistic endeavors. Celebrate milestones as a family.
- Positive Pep Talk: Try giving them a “pep talk” as you would address a behavior issue. For example, if your child was misbehaving, you would like get down on their level, look them in the eye, and point out exactly what behavior caught your attention and how you would like them to change it. Next time, try a similar talk but focusing on the positive. Before you leave the park, for example, I might say “Max, mommy wants to talk to you for a second,” get down on his level and look in his eye. “I saw the way you were including your brother while you were playing and I want you to know that I am SO proud of you. You were a great big brother out there today!”
- Encourage Interaction Have your child speak up while shopping and running errands. If they want to buy something have them say hello to the cashier, ask how their day is, and take care of the transaction. Encourage them and teach them basic interactions from an early age.
BONUS TIP: Perhaps most importantly, you must be confident to teach others confidence. Your kids are always (always, always) watching you and how you interact with the world around you. Show them you are confident, show them you speak up for what is right, and allow them to see you being happy, assertive, and sure of yourself. You might just send up being more confident yourself!
These are simple strategies that you can employ every day. I love trying new tactics – little micro-changes can have major results. Which one of these tips will you try out today?
Love trying new parentings strategies? Be sure to read recent guest post “5 Tips for Raising Engineers – And Sharing Your Own Strengths.”