Where does self-trust or confidence come from? I believe that it comes from many places, some obvious and some less so and this list is just a few that came to my mind while contemplating “confidence” and writing this blog:
- From our inner compass, our intuition, our inner voice
- From accepting ourselves as who we are
- From knowing ourselves and knowing and respecting our boundaries
- From knowing that our parents have faith and trust in us
- From trying something new
- From accomplishments, no matter how small
- From receiving amplifying feedback on our strengths and what is working
- From celebrating success
- From contributing and knowing you have made a difference
- From being recognized, heard and validated
- From courage? (Do you think that confidence comes from courage or does courage come from confidence – that’s an interesting one!)
- From believing in ourselves – where does this belief originate from? Our parents then ourselves, or ourselves and then our parents?
- From feeling safe, accepted and protected
- From knowing and having a deep sense of belonging
- From having secure boundaries
- From knowing where others stand
I also believe that a large part of gaining confidence can come from KNOWING that those who surround you and influence you are confident in themselves:
- Your parents
- A driver
- A teacher
- A friend
- Your team mates on the rugby field
- Your piano teacher who has the confidence in you to encourage you to take a step just outside your comfort zone
I recently gave a talk to parents on instilling confidence in their children and many of them were surprised to realize that a good part of their child’s confidence could in fact come from and be influenced by them, and that almost by an invisible form of osmosis, their confidence might permeate from them into their child. They had not really thought about it this way and had seen their child’s confidence as largely coming from their child’s sense of accomplishment which is absolutely true but the influence from us and the environment cannot be underestimated nor ignored.
We can gain confidence from those who we rely on, those who care for us in any capacity, including ourselves and from knowing that those people will do the right thing, act in our best interest, support us when we need it, have our backs, encourage us, trust in us and be there for us.
As parents we therefore HAVE to be confident in ourselves and in our role as parents and on the odd occasion where we are caught on the hop (pardon the pun with the photo of the bunny above!), I believe that we have to fake it till we make it! Our goal is to help instill confidence in our children and if we don’t appear to have it in ourselves, our children will pick up on it. They will know it and have less confidence in us as the captain of the/their ship and we know that it doesn’t feel good when you have little confidence in the person who is supposedly in “charge”.
I’d like you to invite you to think of this situation: imagine if your boss at work was to flip flop back and forth with his ideas and message, change his mind all the time, let you go with your plan at times but enforce his at others, didn’t communicate well and guide the “ship” confidently. It would most probably negatively affect your confidence in him as the “leader” and then possibly the confidence you have in yourself – you would be all over the map. Now apply that to your parenting role and look at it through your child’s lens: could your child effectively feel the same way about you?
- Sometimes our message is inconsistent and our kids behavior often reflects this
- Sometimes we set boundaries around things like bed time and screen time and other times we don’t but we can’t understand why our kids ignore us when it doesn’t suit them
- Sometimes we might criticize what we are wearing because it is “out of fashion” right now but expect our daughter to not worry about what she is wearing
- Sometimes we are respectful and other times we are not
- Sometimes it’s okay jump on the sofa yet at other times it’s not
- We can shout at them but they can’t shout at us
It is understandable then, how this could undermine their belief in us to guide them well. Over time, this can affect their behavior and ultimately what they think of us and more importantly what they think of themselves and their confidence. It’s not that different from you in the office situation mentioned above.
If our message is not strong enough, inauthentic and inconsistent our children will see the cracks, start to question it, perhaps lose some confidence in us and potentially turn to someone else’s message that “appears” stronger, more consistent and one that resonates with them more: it could be their peers, the cool crowd, the online crowd, mass media, the video game? And, that message and “identity” can then begin to shape them more than you. They can potentially be swept up and engulfed in someone else’s wave which could ultimately cause confusion and affect their confidence because they inherently know they are being influenced by things that may now conflict with their family’s message and values.
- Whose message do you want your child to follow?
- What values do you want to instill in your child?
- What beliefs and culture do you want your child to follow?
- Do you want your child to be comfortable in his/her own skin?
- Do you want your child to be confident to make the wise choice and right decision?
If our message is the message we want to engrain in our children then it needs to be clear and we need to be intentional, consistent and confident in modeling it and transferring or permeating it to them.
For our children to see us as confident, they need to see us as being authentic, living in alignment with our values and beliefs, being consistent, setting boundaries around the things that we want to protect, value and honor and being intentional and confident in our role as a parent.
I believe that this influences their development of self-trust and self-confidence more that we will ever know.