Model and performer, Tyrese Gibson recently released a video on YouTube, where he encourages his daughter to repeat self-affirming words in order to instill in her a sense of self-worth. While adorable, the father-daughter exchange also raises an important question: How do we, as parents, raise confident children?
It’s not easy, especially in a culture that emphasizes overcoming weaknesses, rather than nurturing strengths. At school, we are pushed to focus on areas of study in which we are failing or falling behind, sometimes to the detriment of subjects in which we excel. Too often at work, we hear about our problems more than our successes from superiors.
In general, we’re shown we’re not pretty enough, not athletic enough, not assertive enough. Perhaps we’re scrutinized for having a difficult time staying focused or getting nervous speaking in public or not doing enough as parents. After all, why can’t we knit our children matching jumpsuits from handspun fibers while simultaneously carving flower-shaped homegrown vegetables and teaching our kids the chemical properties of various elements on the periodic table? Well, everyone has obviously done that.
In order for us to overcome insecurities and raise can-do kids, experts agree that a sense of competence is key. Like Tyrese, we should be encouraging our children to believe in themselves. What’s brilliant about his approach is that he’s not telling his daughter that she is special, he’s inspiring her to tell herself that. And providing a self-affirming mantra is a great start.
Then, instead of constantly nitpicking our children’s weaknesses, focus on their strengths. Expose them to a range of activities and encourage them when they find something that suits their natural abilities and that they love to do. Rather than continually correcting them, allow them to decide how to overcome obstacles themselves by asking what they think and giving them effective options.
The more energy we devote to rewarding and encouraging successes, the more our children will discover their worth and develop the confidence to share it with others. Repeat after me: I can do it.