How to help my children be more self-confident
It is the parents who need to give the kids solid self-worth and a positive attitude to life, but how do you do it?
Martina Niederreiter works with children and young people going through a difficult phase in life. “Actually, everything starts from the moment a baby sees the light of day. From the very beginning, babies start to notice their parents’ reactions: facial expressions, gestures, contacts,” she says. Even these very first months provide an insight into the world depending on how many positive or negative moments they experience.
As childhood goes on, it’s the big picture that makes the difference. “Of course not everything can be rosy all the time. The magic words are appreciation and authenticity,” the expert tells us. It improves children’s self-worth when you praise them for doing something good, particularly if they do it themselves, but it shouldn’t be too much. “They also need to learn to handle honest feedback when something hasn’t gone so well. Honesty strengthens them and accepting failure increases their tolerance for frustration.”
If Mum and Dad only ever encourage them and put their child on a pedestal, this can often lead to a lack of empathy and poorer social competence. It’s important to support children while also sometimes rubbing them up the wrong way. Niederreiter says “it can be exhausting, and it is important for the hierarchy and distribution of roles between the parents and the children to remain clear. All in all, though, being consistent on this point leads to greater levels of self-confidence in the kids.” In conflict situations it could be helpful to explain that as a parent you keep going on about things and seem annoying because the child is very important to you.
If you would like to talk to an expert about this topic, you are welcome to make an appointment in one of the numerous Austrian family counseling centers
Our interview partner
Martina Niederreiter is a qualified social worker and mediator and the professional director of the youth counseling center WAGGON in Lower Austria.
The interview was conducted in April 2020.