Gaining Self Confidence 1st Step to Achieving Success

Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.

To be successful as adults, children must understand from an early age that they can do and become anything that they set their minds to. A parent is a child’s first teacher. Until a child begins school and starts to interact with peers and other adults, instilling self-confidence and self-esteem is the responsibility of Mom, Dad, and caregivers.

The biggest success stories are often prefaced by an adult thanking their parents for believing in their ability, and letting them know at every turn that they were indeed capable of greatness.

‘You can do it’ and ‘failure is not an option’ are mantras that I heard repeatedly as a young child from my parents and older siblings, and their voices still ring in my mind even today.

Early life lessons stick with us throughout childhood and adulthood.

Ensuring your child has the self-confidence and self-esteem necessary to push themselves to new heights and accomplishments is critical, and the process should begin at birth.

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As an infant begins to progress into toddler years, they are gaining the ability to think and act independently. They need constant reassurance to reach key development milestones such as crawling, walking, and talking. The same reassurance will soon promote positive social interactions with classmates and teachers.

Research suggests that a positive self-image for young children is also a crucial component to foster later academic achievement and positive and productive behavior overall.

Related studies show that self-esteem is also associated with better physical health and more pro-social behaviors, while low self-esteem is associated with a variety of emotional problems and social difficulties like anxiety and depression.

How can parents help children gain a positive image of themselves and a positive outlook for the future?

According to The Urban Child Institute, early attachment security –an infant’s sense of closeness and love from parents - is key and efforts to promote these feelings within your child should never cease.

Lavishing babies and infants with love and compliments during the first three years of life is especially important to help strengthen connections that are forming in a young child’s brain that are associated with feelings of self-esteem and self-confidence.

Parents shouldn’t worry that too much attention and affection will cause a child to become arrogant and conceited.

Coupled with a strong upbringing and moral foundation, praise and compliments help to give children a sense of self-worth. It is unlikely that encouragement and support from parents will have adverse effects on their personality or cause a child to have an oversized ego.

On the contrary, low self-esteem and a poor self-image can negatively interfere with and affect a child’s learning ability, social behavior, and overall academic performance.

Research on early childhood brain development has found that early attachment problems can cause children to feel unworthy of love and affection. These feelings are early predictors of later social, behavioral and academic problems that without intervention can persist for a lifetime.

Children who experience a lack of love, affection, and reassurance from parents may become shy and withdrawn and begin to question their own ability to excel in and outside of the classroom.

Children who are naturally shy may need extra encouragement.

Some children have a naturally shy temperament. Ultimately, however, parenting behaviors that promote healthy attachment will instill shy children with self-confidence, though at times the process may seem to take longer than with other children.

For parents of shy children, it’s important to understand the difference between being encouraging and pushing too hard. Overly aggressive efforts to make an introverted child become an extrovert are not only bound to fail, but may backfire: Research suggests that such efforts may cause a child to become more socially withdrawn and increase the likelihood for problems like social anxiety, low self-esteem, and difficulties bonding with peers.

Parenting sometimes requires walking a fine line.

Consistent reinforcement of ability and offering rewards for good behavior and performance have proven to be necessary factors to promote self-esteem and positive self-images for young children.

Thinking back on your childhood years, can you recall how good it felt to hear “Great job!“, “You are awesome!” and “Way to go!” from your parents, or to receive a gold star from your favorite teacher?

Parents and caregivers should not deny children the same early feelings of greatness because of preconceived notions, or concern that too much praise will create a ‘know-it-all’, narcissistic, or overly confident child.

Creating boundaries so that your child doesn’t become too full of himself, and challenging your children to think and act creatively and independently are important. However, one thing is certain - a child cannot achieve the goals that parents set for them, or the ones they will later set for themselves without first acquiring self-esteem and knowing that accomplishments are attainable.

As with all things, taking proactive measures to minimize potential for failure, to mediate missteps, and to produce ideal outcomes is key to success in all aspects of life.

And through a focused and committed effort from parents, teachers, and caregivers, all children can develop confidence in their ability to succeed.

Tarrin McGhee is the owner of Pique Creative.

This article was originally published by the Tri-State Defender.