Looks do matter everywhere. How do you expect your kids to believe they are much more than their own physical appearance then? Still, everyone’s true confidence lies in how independent they feel. To boost your children’s self-worth, use realistic compliments. And then you can do the same to improve your own inner strength.
Have you noticed on pictures that every female stands on tiptoe when she wears anything above her knees? Not to mention the 2015 duck face. Or taking 20 selfies to find the one that is just right. There’s no end to striking a pose just to look better on a photo.
We all seem to lack confidence. Maybe it’s because we see it in absolutes. Like, you either have it or not. Somehow the only persons I saw as extremely confident were too self-centered: domineering people without much moral value. The pushy and the selfish seem to “have” it most.
I think we see confidence the wrong way. For me, it is not aggression but the calmness of a man who doesn’t have to make an effort. He just knows he is good. He doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone. This is why they say that accomplished people and huge stars are quite normal people.
If you are confident enough, you feel good about yourselves. You are proud of your achievements and have the courage to try new things. Even if you fail, your self-confidence helps you keep trying until you finally manage to do it. You can cope with your mistakes better.
Also, self-confidence defines your behavior from a very early age. According to the website KidsHealth, this is how children with high self-esteem are different from those who don’t have it:
Unfortunately, a lot of a person’s self-confidence is based on the way they look.
The importance of a body image
Recently I saw my photo when I was 25. At that time my whole looks seemed not good enough. But I looked pretty! Good enough.
I am an average-looking person who thought I should look better – this way I could get things easier. So, I lacked self-confidence.
I wanted to be a blonde at the age of 5.
When I was a teenager, every part of my body seemed bad except the big scar on my forehead – people were asking about it and it had a story to tell.
It took me 30 years to realize that my butt was just fine.
Luckily, things are changing.
I love the whole grey hair – no waxing – Ashley Graham movement. I am excited to see the shift in what’s “normal“. Women waste too much time on beauty every day.
Approaching 40, I don’t care anymore what people in the street are going to think about my looks.
Still, I couldn’t help saying it’s unhealthy to be fat in front of an obese relative. A few times! Without a wish to hurt him. Then I realized in surprise how important it is to me to be lean.
If I could, I would always choose to have a curvy figure. But my build is different.
The good looks are not only a sociocultural thing. They also relate to the way we choose our partners to have healthy offspring. They are the first thing we see in others. Physical appearance is a huge part of our identities.
But how do we build our children’s self-confidence when the whole world struggles with the importance of a body image?
In her 2016 interview with the Guardian Sia admits the importance of one’s body image for a celebrity’s self-confidence:
People in the entertainment industry are considered beauty role models. Thank god paparazzi take their photos with no makeup on. Otherwise, we would all think they are demigods.
Self-confidence is what you think and do
A vast majority of adults suffer from a lack of self-esteem. Those who are self-confident aren’t the ones who can offer the most. It’s some other people. Still, most of us are confident enough to eat, sleep, and take a bath – you can’t be afraid of the things you regularly do.
Self-esteem is based on what you do and the fact that you are proud of these abilities. Feeling good about yourself. And feeling accepted by others.
Now let’s take a look at half of the human population. Women.
A great number of women suffer from low self-confidence. Regardless of all the feminist struggle, idealized physical attractiveness is still considered the most important quality in a woman. Many women have a need to be perfect and suffer from low self-esteem as a consequence of this.
How do we make our kids believe they look just fine with all the photoshopped smiling faces having fun in commercials? How do we debunk the formula that “catwalk beauty = happiness”? Global culture still relies on myths of beauty, youth, sex, money, and “livin’ la vida loca”. Myths!
“Adolescent girls often think that being thinner would make them happier, healthier, & better looking.”
(Source – Teens, Social media, and body language, Gallivan)
Self-confidence comes from 3 sources:
- What you think about yourself
The voice inside you comes from what other people have told you and your own experiences.
- What others think about you
People close to you such as family and friends are very important, but also teachers and the media. The messages young people get from the environment will become the way they see themselves.
- What you learn to do
When you learn to do something, you feel good about yourself.
Techniques to build your child’s self-confidence
I have been thinking and reading expert advice on how to build a child’s self-confidence. This is what I’ve come up with:
Teach your children…
To be critical to what they see
One of the best gifts they can have from you is a mind that knows how to think. For example, it would be good for them to notice this about someone on TV:
“She doesn’t look like that in her bedroom.”
No one is perfect
Make them realize that Facebook and Instagram filters, the red carpet, and ads are fake. Everybody tries to present themselves better than they really are. Also, beauty standards change – the 90-ies models didn’t have big rear ends.
To be their own best friend
Too much self-criticism and great expectations lead to unhappiness. They should learn to speak kind words to themselves. Nothing can be “perfect“ but it can be “good enough“.
To choose to be with people who love them
They should not believe they are as good as their peers treat them. Let them know that many kids bully someone because they are destructive, not because they are better. They either don’t understand someone who is different from them or don’t know what real qualities are.
People we love are always beautiful to us
Identity is not just your face and how much you weigh. They should know they are special because they are smart and kind, not because their jaw is in proportion with their nose.
To see the good around them
Not just the bad. They should try to find a few good things around them throughout the day. Not everybody has those things, so life is still good.
Being aware of what you have and where you were yesterday in comparison with today makes you a more satisfied person. As Benjamin P. Hardy wrote it:
“This is actually quite simple: rather than measuring yourself against your ideals, you measure yourself against where you were before.”Source – How to change negative beliefs, be happy, and become successful
What you should do:
Don’t underestimate their feelings
To them, it IS a big deal. Acknowledge their strong emotion and help them process and deal with it. This way they won’t feel weird about themselves – everybody has strong negative feelings. Also, they will become more mentally resilient over time.
Get them to do stuff all by themselves
They should make age-appropriate choices to feel more in charge of their own lives. Give them house chores. They will feel competent and excercise their problem-solving skills.
Help them set a goal and try to achieve it
Let them choose something important to strive for. They should plan the stages on how to do it and track their own progress. Encourage them to be proud of what they have achieved so far. Many a little makes a mickle.
Help them practice how to persevere
Praise their effort, not their qualities – they are not “the best of all“ but they “did a great job with…“
Every success story is a series of failures and someone just kept on going. If it’s not working, your child could try again some other time. As long as the goal is realistic to achieve.
Teach them to help and give to others
They should do something for someone else. Help, give or clean out. This way they can be proud of their achievements. This way they are making a difference in someone else’s life.
If you’d like to read more about parenting and growing up, subscribe to my weekly email. You will get a free e-book on how to raise children to become satisfied people. Also, take a look at the topics I dealt with in my children’s book Just a blackbird – The story about growing up.