to Raise a Self-Confident Child
©2006-2007 Christine Louise Hohlbaum
all want responsible, caring, healthy, happy children. Add any number
of positive adjectives to the list, and we want it for our kids.
The job of raising highly conscious children is not always an easy
one. Here are some ways in which your family can progress in the
area of consciousness-raising.
starts with the small things. Finding age-appropriate tasks your
child can do will add to his sense of responsibility to pull his
weight in the family unit. A two-year-old can generally put away
his own plate once he has finished a meal. A one-year-old cannot.
five-year-old can pick up his toys before bedtime and put his pajamas
away in the morning. Make these simple tasks routine for your children.
If you do, they won't think twice when you ask them to take out
the trash when they are older.
don't have to be Buddha to teach your child compassion. While your
oldest child may not feel much compassion for his younger brother
who breaks his block towers or favorite toys, you might want to
start out with animals as an example.
a household pet is one way to teach your child about responsibility
and compassion. You might not be ready for that commitment, so here
are some other ways to achieve the same thing.
you see a ladybug, have your child hold it and talk about respect
for all living things. Encourage your child to make a nest for the
ladybug and to care for it. My children started a snail farm for
a time. After they were finished with the activity, they carefully
placed the snails back into the grass. Through this exercise, they
learned snails live in a different environment than they do, but
they could still "convene" with them for a short time.
your child treats another unfairly, ask him or her how it might
feel to be treated that way, too. A simple sentence such as "How
would that make you feel?" can go a long way in teaching your
child about respecting others.
your children in situations where they can decide which way things
will go. Giving two-year-olds choices, for instance, has several
benefits. First, you are avoiding a tantrum by allowing them to
decide between carrot sticks or an apple for their snack. Second,
you are guiding them to make wise choices by offering them healthy
your child grows, expand the areas of choice. To avoid unnecessary
battles at bedtime, for instance, ask your child if he or she wants
to brush teeth now or in five minutes. Either way, the goal of brushing
teeth is clear.
a strong decision-maker does not mean being permissive. Allowing
your toddler to eat chocolate every day for breakfast may not be
the right choice. Setting boundaries and allowing them freedom within
those boundaries will aide their self-esteem and sense of security.
Children like to know what to expect. Boundaries are the guidelines
by which they can live.
with the example above, asking the child whether he or she wants
to brush teeth immediately or after the timer goes off offers choice
within a specified boundary. It reduces the amount of balking your
child does and takes the pressure off your shoulders, too.
your child questions about the choices they make (and then listening
to the answers) gets them to think critically about their own behavior.
While their standard answer might be "I don't know," it
will give them cause to assess what just happened. Trying to slice
her younger brother with a pair of scissors may have been my daughter's
impulsive reaction to her pesky three-year-old sibling. Asking her
why she chose to do it allowed her to think about her actions, even
after the fact.
are great mile markers for your children to take on a bit more responsibility.
Sit down with the birthday boy or girl and ask him or her questions
about what they would like to do this year. Have your child write
down some goals such as learning to swim, ride a bike, or to drive.
Make a list of family goals you might share. Developing such skills
early on will help your child gain the confidence he or she needs
for the future. At the same time, you will gain the satisfaction
that you have laid the essential groundwork for years to come.
Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother (2003), SAHM
I Am: Tales of a Stay-at-Home Mom in Europe (2005), lives near Munich,
Germany, with her family. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter for
empowered parents at: www.diaryofamother.com.