Some of the greatest influences in my life have been the people who boosted my confidence with praise by pushing me beyond the belief I had in my own ability.
We hear voices. From the time we are born we hear voices from every direction. Some voices encourage us to dream big, never give up, tell us we can ‘do it’ and congratulate us when we succeed. Other voices tell us to be cautious, to think of the worst that could happen, that we might get hurt, fail, or make a fool of ourselves. Then there are the destructive voices that tell us we can’t do it, that we will never amount to anything, that we will embarrass ourselves and them or that we are just showing off if we try hard.
Voices matter. Obviously, the voices that are encouraging are the most valuable. We gain confidence when we are praised for doing right rather than berated for doing wrong. It is vital that we instill confidence in our children from the time they are babies so they feel valued and loved from the beginning. We don’t realize how much we limit the initiative of our kids when we discourage them from attempting new things under the guise of protecting them e.g. they might hurt themselves or fail. Yes, they need to take care, but with our guidance or the help of experts, they learn how to become wise in what they attempt.
We need to hear positive voices. No matter how old we are, we need to hear words of encouragement, and at other times powerful words to galvanize us into positive action. We need to watch our kids’ attitudes and actions to make sure discouraging words from us, or others of influence, are not preventing them from being all that they can be. Every human being on the planet relies on, and is influenced by, the acceptance and praise of others. If a child’s confidence is not developed at a very early age they will naturally be cautious, and thus much harder to build on insecurity later.
When you think back to your childhood, who stands out as a person who took the time to encourage you to go beyond your own perceived ability? Was it a schoolteacher, a coach, a Bible Class leader, a friend, a parent or grandparent? What did that feel like? I found it exciting and challenging. I felt that someone believed in me. I felt special and more importantly, I felt valued.
The stronger your belief in your own ability, the less likely you are to be affected by negative words through your life. It is up to us, as parents, to ensure our kids’ ‘positive memory banks’ are full to overflowing to counteract the criticism of others. What voices are your children hearing?
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