Confidence. It is the one thing we want our child to possess in bundles, even if we sorely lack it in many areas. Confident enough to come down the slide in the park; talk to people without hesitating, confident enough to appear on stage; confident enough in thier swimming class, fearless when they steps into the pool even though we may be hydrophobic ourselves. The list is a long one.
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We may not get all ‘Pushy Parent’ about this, but the truth is that we admire a confident child when we see one and wish the same for our child. Well many of us do. If you don’t, you have attained a Zen like state of motherhood and I’d like to sign up for lessons.
Sharmila, mum to 4-year-old Shriya, would like her daughter to get more outdoorsy and confident about physical activities like climbing up and down slides, going on swings and cycling. “I used to be scared about doing these things myself as a kid and was never adventurous, so I’d like her to at least try them out,” she says. To help her daughter get active, Sharmila has done what she thought was the best way out. She has become active herself. ‘We were on holiday recently and I climbed a rope ladder, something I was quite scared of actually, to show her it can be fun.”
Someone I know learnt swimming when she was 36 to help her son get over his fear of being in the water. “Having me around made him feel safe,” she would say.
Deepa Athreya, founder of the Chennai/Bangalore based School of Success, would probably say this is the best way to make your child feel secure and confident about something. Confidence comes from letting your child know how secure they are and how much you are there for them. “Connect with them first and correct later,” she says.
A ‘leadership coach for kids,’ Deepa has been working for over 10 years, conducting workshops for almost 6000 kids across India. Her workshops feature topics like overcoming shyness and fear, handling peer pressure and depression among others, where the children work on different projects and go on field trips. “When it comes to confidence I urge parents that at the end of the day they (children) are our mirror image.” She cites an example. Children who see their parent/s communicating with clarity are likely to be less introverted than others.
It’s also important to back them up and play up their strengths. No matter which way you do it.
A Facebook acquaintance recently put up a video of her son playing the guitar. A surprise as she is a rather private person not prone to displaying her family online. “Just thought it would be good for him,” she says when I ask, “And all the lovely comments and likes have made him quite excited and confident about playing.”
Deepa, who has a talkative, bubbly daughter and a reserved son, says she had to sometimes remind him of his special strengths (he’s skilled in robotics and good in studies) when people were shower attention on his sister.
She urges parents not to compare their child. “By doing that, we are putting pressure on the child that will affect their confidence. Your child has his strengths, so compare with themselves than with others.”
It’s a parenting lesson many of us need to learn.