Building Children’s Confidence Through Effective Communication

Parents and caregivers have an effective tool in building children’s confidence. A video series from The Family Institute at Northwestern University offers practical tips for communicating to build self-esteem and self-confidence.

It’s our job as parents to help our kids grow to be confident adults who succeed in life, and we’ll often do whatever it takes to help our kids along the way. If building children’s confidence is your goal, experts say you’re on the right track — but proceed with caution. Experts at The Family Institute at Northwestern University say there’s a downside to stepping in too soon to help.

“When we do something for them that they might be able to do themselves, we rob from them an opportunity to feel the satisfaction and pride that comes from their own sense of accomplishment,” according to The Family Institute’s web article Too Many Helpings.

You may struggle to straddle the line between being there for your kids and fixing their problems, so it’s great to know that The Family Institute has created a video that specifically addresses issues surrounding coming to our child’s rescue. The video is part of a whole collection called Talking to Kids You Love and it’s available to watch at no cost at The Family Institute’s website.

Building children’s confidence, but how?

Within the series is a section of videos that address “Avoiding the Rescue Trap.” In the video calledBuilding Confidence, a young boy discovers he forgot his backpack at a friend’s house and wants his mother to rearrange her day to drive him to pick it up.

There are several issues at play in this exchange between mother and son, including balancing the son’s needs and wants with her own. Even when the child tells his mom what a “good” mother would do, this smart mom recognizes that solving her son’s problems for him won’t help him in the long run. Instead, she makes the moment a learning opportunity for her son and invites his ideas for how else to solve the problem and compliments his efforts.

In the end, the boy has found a solution and built confidence in his own problem-solving abilities. (There’s even a must-watch video that addresses bedtime monsters in the closet.)

In Talking to Kids You Love, parents, caregivers, loved ones, teachers and anyone who interacts with kids can watch 16 short videos of parent-child encounters that address so many of the common challenges we face on a day-to-day basis. The great part about the series is that each episode focuses on topics that can potentially escalate into power struggles to truly challenge parents who want to do and say the right things.

Created by Aaron Cooper, Ph.D., a therapist at The Family Institute, Talking to Kids You Love is a simple yet effective tool for helping parents communicate respectfully with kids — even teens — in the face of some of life’s most difficult exchanges. Dr. Cooper puts his 40-plus years of experience as a psychotherapist to work in the videos to help parents effectively strengthen their relationships with their children, help build their emotional intelligence and model respectful communication skills, too. (Spoiler: the skills you’ll learn can help every relationship, not just with your kids.)

Coaxing more than one-word responses

Parents of teens recognize the frustration of helping a child who won’t open up and share what’s bothering them. Even the most empathetic parents can experience this from time to time. The video called Bottling It Up portrays a situation where a teen boy is obviously troubled by something that happened at school and his mother’s attempts at creating a safe environment for him to open up and share.

By showing gentle curiosity, the mom establishes a safe space where her son can feel confident he won’t face judgment. Then, she uses what Dr. Cooper calls “every parent’s magic phrase” to keep the conversation going: “Tell me more.” These are just a few of the effective ways this mom communicates with her son and shows him she’s on his side and that his feelings matter. This video goes a long way in helping parents be there for their kids in a way that really helps and advances their parent-child relationship, too.

Talking to Kids You Love reveals so many ways to effectively communicate with kids. The techniques are simple and, with practice, can become natural and authentic, even if we were raised with very different methods of communication ourselves. Even though we bring a wide range of background experiences to our parenting journey, the videos in Talking to Kids You Love can inspire us to find our own unique and loving ways to help our kids grow into confident, capable adults.

Learn more about Talking to Kids You Love at The Family Institute at Northwestern University.


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