We can all agree that the journey from elementary school years to middle school years is a vulnerable one for our children. Between the “little” and “big” kid phases of their lives, they will often experience a range of challenges while navigating through friendships, academics, independence and opinion. These experiences, whether successful or not, can bring many different thoughts and feelings to the surface and sometimes affect our children’s confidence.
How can we as parents help our little ones navigate these changes and process these thoughts and feelings while retaining a healthy confidence as they continue into adulthood?
Since San Diego County is considered the Avocado Capital of the World, there could be no better metaphor to remember these hints to helping our kids with their confidence. Starting with the outside of the Avocado, let's work towards the things which are most important.
Do The Best With What You’ve Got
Let your child know it’s okay if their teeth are growing in weird places and they don’t have braces yet; just make sure they are brushed, and smile! Tell them, “Comb your hair, take showers, and keep your clothes neat.” (My grandma, who was a missionary for many years, always told me that it doesn’t matter where your clothes come from - it is how you present them that counts.)
Be Prepared To The Best of Your Ability
Though it is difficult for our children to sacrifice their time playing sports and playing with friends with a stronger commitment to their school work, it is well worth the extra effort. Their confidence will grow when they have done their homework and know that they have given their best effort. Make sure your children take time to go through those multiplication flash cards—it matters. Also, as parents, plan your week together with your kids, so they have awareness to what is going on, and they may even learn a little about time management in the process. Things don’t always go as expected, but we can plan for the worst and hope for the best.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
Everyone messes up. It’s human. Children need to give themselves a break. As we teach them to be gracious to others, why not encourage them to give grace to themselves? As parents, it’s our responsibility to hand down this important message to them. Let them know it's okay to make mistakes. A great quote from my mother that puts this into perspective is, “you either win or you learn.”
TAKE YOUR MIND OFF OF YOURSELF
Often when we think about others, our own problems become miniscule. Remind your children that there is always someone, somewhere, that may not only be struggling, but that could be dealing with a more challenging situation than our own. It’s important that we teach our children not to stop there, but to then think: How can we be of service to others? Focusing on others is what our Heavenly Father suggests. (Luke 6:31)
WORK ON BEING CONSISTENT
Make goals for improvement, even if they are small, and follow through with those goals every day. Given a little time, you will reap what you sow.
WE ARE HIS
It is important that our children are aware that when all other things fade, when the things of this world affect our self-worth, the core of who we are is this: We are His. The Bible teaches us that we are made in God’s image, and He loves us very much. It doesn’t matter what others might say or what accomplishments we have achieved (or not achieved). We are God’s. If your children are unsure, remind them through reading God’s word (Gen. 1:27, John 1:12, Col. 2:9-10, Jer. 1:5, Rom. 8:37, John 3:16).
PRAY AS A FAMILY (OR BY YOURSELF)
Pray often with your children and allow them to take part and pray, too. Remind them that prayer is our way to talk to God. We can pray for family or friends, let Him know our needs, ask Him for help and to give us our direction, but most importantly we can thank Him for all He’s done. God hears us, and prayer changes everything.
Obviously we can’t do all of this on our own, and that’s okay. God can help us with that, too. The key is for us to help our children understand that God is there for them—anytime, anywhere. So, when it comes to confidence, the best advice we could give our children is the truth that they will always find the greatest confidence, not from themselves, but from God.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”