As parents, we start building our kids’ confidence from the day they’re born. This is an extremely important task, because confident children grow up to be happy and successful adults.
Instilling confidence in kids is all about demonstrating that they are valued, loved, and accepted, as well as providing your child with opportunities to feel capable and competent.
When it comes to raising confident boys, it’s also important to allow your son to be who he is, even if that means he doesn’t fit society’s perception of a “manly” male.
Below, we’ll share four simple tips to help you raise a confident boy.
Teach Him to Express and Manage Emotions
The societal stereotype that men shouldn’t be sensitive or “boys don’t cry” is actually harmful to young boys.
When boys are taught to bury their emotions, or are scolded when they do express these emotions, they begin to think that their feelings don’t matter. And if their feelings aren’t valued, it seems logical to believe that they aren’t valued either.
Teach your son that all emotions, even negative ones, are okay to feel. Listen to his feelings and help him process them in a healthy way.
Encourage His Interests
Feeling accepted is vital to a child’s confidence, so encourage your son’s interests, whatever they may be.
If you dreamed of your son becoming an NBA All-Star, and he loves chess instead, don’t express disappointment. Be supportive and encouraging, and go to your son’s chess matches with the same enthusiasm you would have expressed for his basketball games.
Your son will feel loved and accepted, which will shape him into a confident and happy individual.
Demonstrate Unconditional Love
It’s inevitable: sometimes our kids make mistakes and bad choices. When your son does this, be sure that you take the opportunity to demonstrate unconditional love.
Make it clear that while you dislike his choices, you will never dislike him. Separate your child’s negative actions from who he is as a person, and direct all criticism at his choices rather than at his identity. For example, say, “I’m disappointed that you didn’t study for your test,” instead of, “Why are you so lazy?”
Kids believe the messages that they hear about themselves, so be sure that your son knows he is special, valued, and loved, regardless of the mistakes he makes.
Be Physically Affectionate
Kids need physical affection from their parents in order to feel the love and sense of belonging that builds confidence.
Unfortunately, young boys sometimes don’t get enough physical affection, especially from their fathers. Even if it feels strange to you at first, try to hug your son every day. Put your arm around him, tousle his hair, and tell him you love him. These small gestures are far more powerful than you realize.
To raise a confident boy, don’t fall into societal norms like withholding affection or discouraging him from showing emotion.
Demonstrate clearly that he is a loved and valued individual, and he will one day grow into a confident young man.