Developing boys’ confidence takes time, but the effort it so worth it.
True confidence is essentially self-assurance that’s rooted in knowledge and appreciation of personal abilities or qualities. This kind of confidence is authentic — and only possible when boys are allowed to discover and use their unique gifts and abilities.
Helping boys develop confidence is a major achievement that will set them up for success in the future.
Follow these tips to develop boys’ confidence:
Help Them Understand Their Emotions
One thing that can be difficult for boys is understanding their own emotions. Having a good understanding of one’s own emotions turns out to be one of the most vital aspects to living a happy and fulfilled life, so you’ll want to devote time and attention to helping boys develop emotional intelligence. You can begin by helping them learn mindfulness.
That word — “mindfulness” — can bring up all sorts of different notions and images, but the concept of mindfulness is quite a simple one. At its most basic, mindfulness is simply paying attention to what is going on internally in oneself.
To help your boys develop mindfulness, encourage them to think about their emotions a little. If they have found themselves in a situation where anger, sadness or another emotion got the better of them, encourage them to spend some time thinking about what happened and how it felt in their body. Encourage them to notice the physical sensations associated with their emotions, and help them identify the emotions. Note the link between physical feelings and emotions. Teach your boys techniques (such as deep breathing) that they can use to manage the physical manifestations of emotions.
The more your boys understand their own emotions, the easier they will find it to be fully confident and understanding of themselves (and others).
Praise Effort, Not Outcomes
If you notice and praise your son’s efforts throughout his childhood, he’ll eventually develop a healthy appreciation for his abilities (and come to learn the value of hard work!). Showering praise on an outcome — the race he won, the picture he painted — is not nearly as effective as praising the work he put in to attain the goal. Praise the hours he spent training and practicing, so he learns to appreciate his efforts.
It’s especially important to praise your boys when they’re doing something new, or something that’s historically been difficult for them. This praise will encourage their efforts.
All boys do things worthy of praise. Be sure to notice the efforts and contributions of all the boys in your life.
Allow Them To Develop Their Own Style
As boys get older, they naturally start to develop their own ideas about their style. How they look and how they want to present themselves become important, and encouraging and supporting your son’s burgeoning fashion sense is one way you can help him develop authentic self-confidence.
Note: his style may be radically different from yours (or what you’d wish for him!) Learn to roll with the punches. If your boy announces a desire for long hair, let him grow it out. Show him how to use blue shampoo and style his hair, as needed. Your mission is to accept his style choices and allow self-expression.
There is also something to be said for challenging your boys a little, at least from time to time. If you challenge them appropriately, you’ll find that it helps them to develop their own sense of themselves, build skills, and engage in life in a much more diverse and interesting way. Of course, you need to be careful about how you challenge your boys. If the challenge is too difficult or you harshly criticize or challenge them, you may end up damaging their self-confidence — and your relationship.
Assign your boy tasks or projects that are just a bit beyond his current ability. Supply him with the appropriate tools and remain available to help and answer questions. His confidence will grow as he develops new skills.
Challenging boys is the exact opposite of coddling them. When you coddle a child, he doesn’t develop new skills. When you challenge him (or allow him to pursue self-selected challenges), his abilities multiply.
Surround Them with Good Role Models
Boys often believe they have to be the biggest, the strongest, and so on. This outdated cultural ideal is still very prevalent in society, so it’s not surprising that boys still buy into it. You can counter this thinking by surrounding your boys with good role models — men of all sizes, shapes, and abilities who have figured out how to shrug off that kind of thinking and embrace their vulnerability.
If your boys have someone like this in their lives, they’re more likely to develop a nuanced idea of masculinity and manhood, and more likely to feel secure in their bodies and abilities.
Note: Dads can be excellent role models, but so can other men! Great guys are everywhere — in schools, church, communities, sports leagues and more. Surround your son with as many good men as possible.
Encourage Them To Talk
Despite the changes that have occurred in society in recent years, boys are still subtly taught to not to express emotions, because emotions viewed as weakness and therefore not masculine. Deconstruct that outdated idea! Talk about it. Ask your boys what they think. Listen to them. Boys need to learn that their emotions and voices matter, and the only way that will happen is if we give them time (and space) talk and then listen to them.
Developing boys’ confidence is a worthwhile investment.
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