‘The right kind of confidence’ is a key phrase. The bravado of a young man raised without a father’s guidance is often a false confidence, the bravado used to gain acceptance with a substitute confidante or group. This is evident in gangs where boys try to prove their maleness in all the wrong ways, through violence, one-upmanship, and ravaging young women.
The right kind of confidence
The right kind of confidence comes when you are at peace with yourself and not trying to prove anything to anyone. Truly confident people are not defensive and they have a calmness about themselves. Using this definition of confidence, I don’t know anyone that is completely there, but I do know some that are very close and others that have much work to do. Having the right kind of confidence doesn’t have much to do with age, talent, or looks. It has more to do with conditioning. Parents can build confidence in their kids or tear it down.
Key in the confidence of young girls is male approval. Girls are impacted when their lack of confidence drives them to get acceptance in the wrong ways. This is where fathers are crucial. When a daughter is adored, loved, and protected by her dad, she knows she is important, respected, and valued. When ignored by her father, she doesn't get those reassurances. If a girl never hears her father tell her she is intelligent and lovely, she will be charmed and enchanted when she hears it from a boy. The father says it with true love while another male may have questionable motives or a short attention span, leaving the girl emotionally damaged.
How to ingrain the right kind of confidence.
Here are three ways to ingrain the right kind of confidence in your children. There are others, but these three are critical.
1. Support of family
The confidence of kids is much more likely to develop when they have the support of their family. What kid will walk a thin line as confidently as when they have the safety net of their family supporting them? With a strong family on their side, kids will stretch beyond their comfort zone knowing they will have a safe place to land.
2. Praise the right kind of failure
Failure is the risk of trying something new to help you grow. There is no shame in failure when we are chasing a reward, but we always try to avoid it. The most common way people avoid failure is by avoiding risks which in turn leads to stagnation. Growth will never happen without the possibility of failure, and overcoming it is the fastest way to gain confidence. Praise failure when the effort is there. It’s up to parents to judge the effort. A single parent may never have the time or energy to encourage a child to take risks or to notice when they do. An inept or selfish father or mother may never consider placing their children in situations that will improve their confidence. Effective parents are always aware of their children’s needs.
3. Reasonable expectations/small steps
Set reasonable expectations for your kids. As an analogy, if your kid is a sports car, don’t expect her to haul a big load. If your kid is a truck, don’t expect him to be nimble on curves. Praise their strengths and know their weaknesses. If you place unreasonable expectations your kids, you will set them up for a loss of self-esteem and confidence. For example, I was once placed into a geometry class mid-school year at a new school. I had never been introduced to geometry, and although I had always done well in math, my confidence was shaken when I didn't know what theorems were or how they were related. The academic jump was too much too fast. The way to teach confidence is by methodically conquering incremental goals that are challenging but reachable, and never stop.
Families are key to the confidence of their children. If families are troubled, fractured, or uncommunicative, there is little hope for finding answers to the problems and fears of children. This situation will drive them elsewhere for guidance and support, which could be devastating depending on where they go to find it When families are whole and aware, when there are two parents that are working together, then proper attention and support within families are much more likely to occur, and children will have a fair chance to succeed.