BUILDING CONFIDENT KIDS
One of the most vital gifts you can give to your children is self-confidence. That inner ability to be self-assured and believe in themselves. This is also a vital spiritual characteristic in overcoming Satan’s vicious, accusing attacks to always tear us down. As a father and even as a pastor, it was always one of my primary objectives to build up the confidence of the people I led. I came alongside them, believed in them, invested in them, and entrusted them with real responsibilities.
Self-confidence develops in two critically important ways. The first is by believing in and encouraging your children. The second is by helping them achieve small victories, genuine achievements that each builds on the other, giving them a track record of real accomplishments and successes in their lives. Many kids and young people today have a faulty sense of confidence based on nothing more than someone telling them how wonderful they are but have never truly earned or achieved anything in their lives. They are doomed to eventual failure and disillusionment. They may be famous on social media but are often nothing more than a mirage.
I often think of the story of God and Gideon. When God approached this young man, His greeting was “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” Judges 6:12. What a greeting from God! What confidence God declares in Gideon! You see how God expresses belief in Gideon. Then he allows Gideon to bring up his concerns, he lets Gideon express himself honestly, then God again tells him what God was going to do through him, and assures him that God is with him. Then Gideon brings up his insignificant family background, and his own smallness and inadequacy. Then God reassures Gideon in all his doubts, with promises, and lays out a great mission to go forth and succeed at. All with God’s almighty help of course! After even more reassurance, Gideon goes out and wins a great victory!
I have used this God model and example over and over again to help me raise confident kids.
Here were the principles I used.
1. I genuinely believed in my kids. I believed God wanted to use each one of them, and I dealt with them in that manner. I continually expressed my confidence in them and encouraged them. I still do even to this day. I invested my life in them.
2. I gave them little things to begin with that they could succeed at, and experience victory in. It could be learning to ride a bike, shoot a basketball through the hoop, run around the block, or climb a wall. It could be helping them make something, draw something, or cook something in the kitchen. It could be mowing the lawn, shoveling snow off the driveway, or other small jobs given to them. These things may seem very small, but they build confidence in your child.
3. Kids need real challenges so they can experience achievements that they worked hard to accomplish. For my kids we used Karate. This was a tremendous school of training to teach them determination, persistence, and to earn many belts of increasing ranks of achievement as they strove to earn their black belt. We also helped them participate in many, many tournaments, where their skills were tested, and their achievements were rewarded. They often had to perform these skill sets in front of judges and lots of spectators, or fight competitively which helped them overcome their fear of being in front of people.
4. We never sent them to a tournament that they were not prepared for. This is the greatest way to destroy your self-confidence. When you continually fail, because of the lack of diligent preparation, you eventually lose your self-confidence, become negative and give up.
5. We did not allow our children to poke fun at each other, or tear each other down with their words. Living in that kind of home environment where you are always picked on, degraded, and made fun of is very destructive to a child’s self-confidence. Since all the kids did karate together, they could train together, help each other, and the older ones could be an example to the younger ones. We all cheered each other on. It was a wonderful tool and experience for all of them.
6. Help them find their God-given gifts and talents, and encourage them in those, help them develop them to their fullest potential.
All my kids have some musical ability. I was very strategic in how I brought them along in their musical abilities. I got them the guitars, and the training needed to succeed when they expressed genuine interest and desire. I challenged them to practice their playing or singing and set goals for them even if they didn’t realize they were goals. I was aiming to one day use all 4 of them publicly in my ministry work, in front of thousands of people. But I started very small. Step by step, envisioning them, encouraging them, they grew more and more confident. I still remember the first time I played my guitar for my daughter to sing her first solo in front of high school kids. I made sure we were both prepared. They achieved one victory and success after another. But I never pushed them in an unhealthy way. I enabled and encouraged their growth, commended their efforts, I believed in them, and they knew it. I had them serve along with me which at times was as unnerving for me as it was for them! Why? Because I knew they would be judged harshly and unfairly by some.
7. I did my very best to not only encourage them, but to offer wise, loving constructive criticism that would help them get better, but not take the heart out of them.
8. We taught them how to rely on and find strength and encouragement from God and his promises. We instilled in them and reminded them that God is with them! He will not fail them!
9. Build their moral excellence and their integrity! Nothing will erode confidence more than being a hypocrite. Knowing in yourself that you are a phony. Help them genuinely be God-honoring in their personal lives.
10. Help them know, believe and accept the amazing grace of God. None of us is perfect, ever. We all fail and make mistakes. God does not help the perfect. God helps the humble. Those who know their great need for his grace and mercy. Teach and instill in them the Grace of the Gospel!
In closing today, I want to honor my wife! Kathy played a tremendous role in building confidence in our 4 children. The way she home educated them, lovingly taught and encouraged them, was incredibly patient and kind with them, prepared them for their annual tests, all these things gave each child the confidence to go to college at a younger age than most kids go. Kathy was simply amazing. She drove them to almost every karate practice, sometimes 4 times a week. Prayed with them in the van on the way to each karate practice. Attended all their tournaments cheering them on. She taught them many, many verses that encouraged their confidence and reliance upon God, that encouraged and urged them on to pursue moral excellence. She was a vital contributor to each of our children’s growth and self confidence. Her mothering made an incredible difference in each of our children’s lives. It would simply be impossible to overstate her profound influence on their lives!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling