Raising Can-Do Kids: 8 Ways To Boost Confidence & Self-Belief

A little while back, our kid wanted to make some money.

He got inspired by street artists selling art and wanted to open his own gallery on the street.

My first thought was something like this:
“This won’t work. He’ll get disappointed, hurt, and angry.”

Luckily, my wife responded first 😅.

We ended up tweaking the idea. Rather than selling art (only), we added some stones and legos with gold spray paint.

Here’s the booth:

So cool.

He actually ended up making $140 over 4 days (around 7 hours of work total).

Not bad for a 5-year-old!

Watching him nail this and sit patiently for HOURS taught me a lesson—the importance of working with their ideas and helping them.

Sometimes our kids just need a nudge in the right direction!

I want my kids to learn that they CAN have good ideas. This is how they learn to believe in THEMSELVES.

8 Ways to Boost Confidence & Self-Belief

#1 Really Listen

Our kids are full of big ideas.

Listen to your kid’s idea without interrupting. Let them fully express the idea.

You can help them think about the idea from different angles.

This is where some adult “tweaking” comes in.

You can ask follow-up questions like, “what do you mean by …” or “what do you think will happen if …”.

By doing this we show them that WE believe in them and that their ideas matter.

#2 Affirm your Kid

Affirmations are a great tool in raising “can-do” kids.

The goal of positive affirmation is to help our kids (and us) to fight back against negative thinking.

For us, this works best at bedtime when our son is winding down. I like to be specific about his unique character.

Sometimes my affirmations look like this:

  • You have good ideas
  • Your body is beautiful and strong
  • You can solve problems and do hard things
  • You are loved

Often this leads to some interesting questions… and good conversation.

#3 Encourage Curiosity

Children are naturally curious.

By letting them be involved in everyday life, you are offering opportunities for curiosity.

A kid’s curiosity can either be sparked or squashed. And we want to be the dads that “spark”!

  • When your kid shows interest in participating or asking questions – let them.
  • Get them involved – safely.
  • Give them a chance to explore and make mistakes… or get messy!

But this means that we have to slow down a bit.

And be patient.

#4 Alternatives to “No”

“No, you can’t do that!”

“No, No, No – not inside!”

Sound familiar?

For our little kids, it can sometimes feel that we are saying no about everything (even if we aren’t). They can feel that we don’t let them do anything.

We want to teach our kids that they CAN do things and make independent decisions – reasonably and safely.

How about trying this:

  • Create “safe spaces” in your home for toddlers. Allocate a bottom drawer in the kitchen for kiddy-safe utensils and hide away TV cables.
  • “Instead of playing soccer inside, it’s time to go outside – there is more space”
  • Say YES as often as you can – “I know you like using the ipad, but we will have to wait for the weekend” (can you see you’ve given a “yes” and a “no” without saying “yes” or “no”!?)

This way, our “NO” has far more weight in very important or dangerous situations.

#5 Balanced Feedback

We want to avoid raising “Praise-Junkie” kids.

Of course, we say “good job” or “clever boy” when our kids do something well.

But experts in child development have found that if we overdo this, we run the risk of raising kids addicted to praise.

It’s not good for their self-esteem as they can start to believe that their self-worth comes from the praise of others.

We need to guide them in developing motivation from within.

(Intrinsic motivation).

Here are some ideas for balanced feedback that show our kids 1) we see them and 2) they did a good thing:

  • You did it!
  • Thank you for …
  • I love the colors you used.
  • This looks like it took a lot of effort!
  • You went potty by yourself! (you are describing what you see, not what they did)

#6 Celebrate Others

Confident people can celebrate the talents and character of others.

Not being the center of attention is part of life.

(And it can really suck when you’re 7 years old!)

Comparison and jealousy are like weeds in a garden. They take over and rob us of joy.

Teaching our kids to love themselves and celebrate others is key to raising self-confident kids!

But, we need to let our kids feel and guide them through the emotions. You can say something like, “its okay to be upset, but right now we are cheering for… come on bud, let’s do it together.”

#7 Teach Them to Stand Up for Themselves

It’s important to teach our kids how to recognize bullying.

And how to say “NO”.

Recently, a friend’s toddler was bitten by a fellow preschooler. Here’s how they chatted about it after preschool with their 2-year-old:

  • “X bit you. Ow! That really hurt and made you very very sad.”
  • “X made it right with you. He said sorry.” (With the teacher’s help)
  • “If someone hurts your body, you say “Stop!” (They practiced holding up a hand and saying “stop” in a big, loud voice.)

This little kid can’t even say much yet.

But it’s never too early to teach our kids to stand up for themselves… and others.

For dads with older kids, check out my blog about when kids open up.

#8 Set Goals Together

When we achieve a goal there is a great sense of personal satisfaction.

Teach your kid to set a goal – it helps them develop determination and perseverance.

Find the balance between a challenging goal and a goal within their reach to keep them motivated.

You can make a fun goal-tracking chart together.

We’ve done this with stickers, graphs, colored pens, and even beans in jars!

Talk about the ups and downs of trying to achieve a goal.

This is real-life stuff.


Thanks for reading!

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