I was recently at a good friend’s house for a couple days and had the chance to spend some time with her three amazing boys, Evan, Noah and Payton. Now as you can imagine kids will be kids and boys will be boys. The usual arguing, wrestling, and rough housing were all present and a normal part of being a kids. It took me right back to when I was growing up with brothers.
I had the chance to watch her two older boys, Evan and Noah, play a game when they got up early the following morning. And, what I saw totally warmed my heart. Evan was playing as Noah watched intently, he clearly wanted to try it out. It wasn’t long before Evan gave Noah a chance. First, he showed him how then sat back and encouraged him when he watched him play. The two of them went back and forth trying to get as far as they could on the level they were on. Several times along the way Evan would root for his younger brother encouraging him, "you can do it" or similar!
And, when Noah passed Evan’s high score by a marked amount, he acknowledged him and I’m pretty sure I saw a high five. It was the coolest thing to see as I sat back and watched their interaction.
This show of encouragement is a great demonstration of how to help someone build confidence. It also made me reflect on other ways we can help our kids to do the same. Building confidence and courage is a whole lot easier starting when you are younger, at least from my perspective. Encouragement and what Evan did for Noah that day was a great way to build someone else up. Here are a few more tips you can try with the little ones you influence around you.
Building kids today to be stronger adults of tomorrow!
Help them re-frame dis-empowering statements. What does this mean you ask? Have you ever heard a child say, “I don’t know” I know I certainly have in fact I’ve said it too often myself throughout the years? When it makes sense, try telling them, Yes, you do (in a fun lighthearted way of course). Then encourage them to share their thoughts. This will also help their resiliency and overall problem solving.
What do you think? These four words my friends are so empowering not just for kids but as adults. Let them give you their ideas. Let them share their thoughts. Let them decide on simple things when possible.
Use And not But. I heard this one somewhere early on in my leadership roles and it definitely stuck with me. If you look at the word "but" it basically negates anything positive you said before it. By using the word "and" you are acknowledging what they said and adding to it rather than dismissing it.
"Let’s try it and see". This one can impact in a couple ways. First by saying “let’s” you are telling them that you are in it with them. This could help if they are hesitant to try a certain things. Secondly, by encouraging them to just try it (with or without) you it opens up the opportunity for them to explore new ways of doing things. This could also help build creativity depending on the situation.
Yes, you can! I love this one. Encouraging other people can come in several different forms. Reinforcing what is possible is a great way to help someone build more confidence in themselves.
“Billy does it this way” have you ever heard someone dismiss themselves or minimize their ability because it is different than the way someone else does it? I know I have. Comparison for both children and adults holds so many people back from what is truly on their heart. We have a chance to help kids see themselves as individuals and in turn build confidence by simply acknowledging, yes, Billy (or whomever that person is) may do it this way but you are not Billy. You are (fill in their name here), how do you do it?
Be silly. This is probably one of the biggest lessons I learned along the way not just for my son and when he was growing up but, in my career, as I worked with my teams. There really is such a thing as being too serious. I am a pretty intense/serious thinker and person it takes work for me to step out of that place and just have fun and be silly. If this sounds like you, trust me, step out of that role, set expectations aside and have more fun with your kids. The simple art of you looking silly will allow them to put less pressure on themselves.
Admit when you are wrong. I believe confidence is built to some extent by being okay with making mistakes. When kids see you recognizing mistakes that are going to be more comfortable and confident with trying things knowing that mistakes will come along the way too.
Every day is a chance to build ourselves and build those around us. Be strong, dream big and encourage the ones you love.