Before I had kids I knew that the one gift I wanted to give them was a strong sense of confidence. I had a hard time with it growing up – I wasn’t the pretty girl or the sporty girl and my grades were average. I never knew where I fit (there are days when I still have this problem) and I didn’t want my kids to ever feel that way.
Then, I actually had kids. We sailed joyfully through the initial “babymoon” phase, during which I was sure that my children would be perfect and filled with self-confidence. That was immediately followed by the sleep deprivation phase that lasted 4 years (seriously) and that’s when I realized that it would be hard to give them confidence when mine was slowly disappearing! Constant fatigue, high stress and the ingestion of multiple chocolate bars will do that I guess.
Don’t get me wrong; my kids know themselves pretty well. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know what they want to wear and what activities they want (or don’t want) to take part in and they know how to express themselves. What they lack is the confidence to know that the outfit they love looks perfect the way it is – it doesn’t look “stupid” just because it’s different from the other kids. My son isn’t confident enough to know that nobody will laugh at him when his sister is wearing pajamas in public. And a big issue we’re dealing with right now is that my daughter thinks she has to give her friends her toys in order for them to play with her. To me, this is another form of bullying and she needs confidence to be able to say no.
I know that a lot of these things will be easier for them as they get older. Hopefully as they gain confidence, so will I. In the meantime, I need to find a way to let them know they’re amazing little creatures (maybe I should start by not calling them “creatures”?) with their own batch of special skills and quirks. So here’s my plan: I’m going to be very careful about the way I talk to them when their behaviour is less than stellar. My kids are both super-sensitive to vocal tones and mine tends to be heavy on sarcasm so I’ll work on that. I’m going to stop what I’m doing whenever possible to listen as they tell me what they’re working on and, most importantly, I’m going to be there to offer as many hugs as they ask for.