- BY CAROL CUPPY
These six steps can help you to build self-confidence and a positive self-image in your children.
Anna watched as her five-year-old son, Jeremiah, raced around the playground with his friends. Each boy had chosen to be a superhero, all with the most ridiculous names imaginable: Captain Gerbil, Slime Boy, The Great Zack-a-roni and Cheese. The trio hollered as they scampered up the playground equipment steps and conquered the make-believe fortress. Jeremiah climbed to the tallest point, the slide, and assumed a superman pose. His self-confidence on the playground was encouraging. Anna wondered how she could get that same self-confidence and positive self-image to spread into the other areas of his life and last for years to come.
Sure, she didn’t want Jeremiah to grow up thinking that the world revolved around him. However, Anna did want to instill a sense of self-respect and teach him that he had a value of his own. As a first time parent, she wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.
6 Ways to Develop Self-Confidence
If you are in the same boat as Anna and want to develop self-confidence and a positive self-image in your children, here are six steps that you can take.
1. Create Self-Confidence By Showing Their Value
Ephesians 2:10 provides the framework and the foundation as we seek to develop self-confidence in our kids. Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God created beforehand that we should walk in them.”
To build healthy and balanced self-esteem in your kids, begin by instilling a deep understanding of the biblical doctrine of creation. Tell each child, “You are infinitely valuable because God made you. Not only that, but He made you in His image (Genesis 1:27)! In ways we will never fully be able to explain, you are like God. As a result, you are able to enjoy a personal relationship with Him through Jesus.
What’s more, He has made you with a special purpose in mind. He has a job for you to do, and you are the only one who can do it. You are a masterpiece of God’s creativity, unique in all creation!”
2. Demonstrate Their Uniqueness
At this stage in the process, it would be a good idea to expand on the principle of your child’s uniqueness in the eyes of God. Ask each kid, “What is it about you that makes you who you are? What gets you excited? What do you love to do most?” Explore their strengths and natural inclinations and help them get enthused about developing their abilities in these areas.
At the same time, identify their weaknesses and assure them that it’s okay not to be good at everything. Help them to sense that you know them and that you fully accept them for who they are. Praise them when they do something right, but be careful not to let praise degenerate into mere empty flattery. Instead, try to keep your comments specific, accurate, and dedicated to the facts. For example, “You may not have scored a goal in that last soccer game, but you played well. I know you’ve worked very hard in practice to become the best player you can be.”
3. Talk About God’s Love
Another way to develop a child’s self-confidence is to talk about God’s love. Underscore the idea that His love is unconditional. There is nothing we have to do to earn it and nothing we can do to make Him stop loving us. Point out that God loves us simply because He is our Father and we are His children. Then, when your child has a firm grasp of this concept, ask, “What do you think this says about our relationship?” In no uncertain terms, drive home the idea that your children need to do nothing to be loved by you. Express your love verbally whenever you get the chance. Write notes to your kids telling them that you’re thinking of them and praying for them. And be liberal with hugs and kisses. Even a little bit of physical affection goes a long way.
4. Provide A Healthy Dose of Reality
Once your kids are on the road to a positive self-image, how do you keep them from going to the other extreme? How do you prevent them from succumbing to the temptation to worship themselves as minor deities and to expect the same treatment from everyone else? That should be relatively easy. A good dose of reality from time to time — a bad grade on the report card or a disappointing loss on the baseball field — should do the trick, especially if you’re around to help them understand the significance of the situation. Healthy amounts of balanced discipline and loving correction will also go a long way in discouraging attitudes of entitlement and self-centeredness.
You can also direct their attention to what the Scriptures have to say on this point. For instance, Romans 12:3 says, “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to.” Philippians 2:4 states, “Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” When the circumstances call for it, say something like, “You’re neither any better nor any worse than anyone else. You’re just yourself. So don’t go around comparing yourself with others. That’s a dangerous way of finding self-worth.” As opportunities arise, encourage your kids to notice and celebrate other people’s strengths and positive qualities. Help them understand that they don’t need to view those people as threats and that being loved doesn’t depend upon being Number One.
5. Model Positive Self-Image
If you want your children to have a healthy self-image, work on having a healthy self-image yourself. Remember that the vast majority of parental teaching happens through osmosis. Good attitudes toward life are usually caught rather than taught. If you have a good concept of who you are in the sight of God, that’s going to rub off on the people around you.
6. Build Self-Confidence Through a Blessing
The practice of a parent giving a blessing to their children goes back to biblical times. Giving your child a blessing at any age can be an excellent way to show them their value and help them develop self-confidence. You can learn specific steps on how to bless your children here.
These six steps can help you to create self-confidence and a positive self-image in your children. What other ways can you think of that will help instill self-esteem in your kids? Create a list and practice them regularly. Doing this can help your child grow and mature not only in life and relationships with others but also in their walk with God.
For more resources on this topic, check out this list. © 2021 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.