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Want to Raise a Confident Child? Then Avoid These Common Labels

Posted by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 12:32 PM
  • 11 Replies

By Laura St. John

     

Photo Courtesy: Flickr / Lars Plougmann

If you want to empower your kids to become a powerful, confident beings, then be careful with how you label them now. Without realizing it, most of us naturally label each child differently -- the smart one, the athletic one, the shy one -- and negative labels stick just as easily as the positive ones. Before I had my own kids, I taught hundreds of children and was always shocked to see how blatantly parents labeled their kids. I figured I would never do that.

Boy, how the tables have turned! Now that I have 3 very different children of my own, I know first-hand how hard it is not to label my kids, and I bite my tongue daily to stop myself from comparing each of them to one another, which inadvertently points out weak traits. So personally, I turn to the same effective strategy that my parents used on my sisters and me:

Back in the 70's, my parents decided it would be fun to have 3 girls within 3 years. Needless to say,we got plenty of labels wherever we went. "Oh my, look at those girls," people would comment, then ask, "Is she the shy one? ..and oh that little one (yes -- that's me)... is she your handful?"  Like a broken record, my mom and dad would always reply -- making sure we overheard -- with the same exact response, "All 3 of our girls are so good, so creative, and so smart. We are so lucky." They seriously tricked us - and it worked. My sisters and I naturally rose to their expectations of how luckymy parents thought they were. I'm sure that all three of us are strong, capable, confident women today because of this label we all got early on.

Let Your Kids Overhear Your Positive Talk

I learned as a child that overhearing my parents say how great I was to other people was way more powerful than receiving any praise from them directly. Somehow, it made it way more believable.

Erase This S-Word From Your Vocabulary

Pay extra close attention when you're describing your child with labels that can have the same effect in a negative way, such as the s-word -- "shy." When I was a teacher, parents would literally walk in on the first day of class and say, "Oh, she's very shy." And of course, the child would be clinging, head down, with super low confidence. Now of course some kids are naturally more reserved than others, but this label simply sticks kids in their shell and makes it a lot harder to crack.

Help Your Child Break the Ice in New Surroundings

Even if your child is uncomfortable with new people or new surroundings, give her the opportunity to come out of her shell by boosting her confidence by helping break the ice. When you go somewhere new, like a park, prompt her to talk with peers and other adult friends about specific things that you know are within her comfort zone -- such as siblings, pets, vacations, favorite toys or activities. Then reinforce it later that night by talking to your husband or friend, "Today at the park, she expressed herself so nicely!! She told her friend's mother all about our new dog. I'm so proud of how nicely she spoke to her."

Include Your Other Kids, Too

Now I struggle with how my two-year-old steals the limelight wherever we go. He's just at that adorable stage that makes strangers stop and say, "How cute!" I always have to make sure my older sons don't feel left out, by saying, "Yes, thank you. All three of my boys are so cute, smart, and all so good. We are so lucky!"

Now I'm like a broken record. Except I still wonder -- was I the handful?

by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 12:32 PM
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Replies (1-10):
fraujones
by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Tfs. I tried so hard to stop people from labeling my oldest as "shy." Unfortunately, I haven't been very successful. 

Hottmomma607
by Silver Member on Mar. 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM
This is good TFS.
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countrygirlkat
by Silver Member on Mar. 19, 2013 at 1:58 PM

 That is a great article!  Thanks for sharing.

4kidz916
by Member on Mar. 19, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Great post.  

Wish2Be
by Silver Member on Mar. 19, 2013 at 6:11 PM

This is great ! My son is shy....and I always tell people that when they look at me for an answer as to why he is being bashful. I guess I wont be doing that anymore.

timon95
by Silver Member on Mar. 19, 2013 at 7:03 PM
1 mom liked this

yes, i tell people my son is shy. i would rather people know he is shy than to have them label him as rude and impolite. our kids both know they are different in their own ways - whether it's one being shy and the other out going. we don't hide it from them. we do talk positively about them and their different qualities. we know that he will eventually get over it and he is coming out of his shell more and more.  they also know that they are the way they are because that is how God made them - each special and unique in their own way.

SweetLuci
by Silver Member on Mar. 22, 2013 at 10:25 PM

 I agree. My nephew was very shy around large groups of people, but many thought he was rude, and I even had a woman ask if he was "slow", because she kept trying to engage him in conversation, and he kept backing away from her. I then began to explain that he was vey shy, expecially when someone singled him out. He's now older and very social, but it took awhile.  

Quoting timon95:

yes, i tell people my son is shy. i would rather people know he is shy than to have them label him as rude and impolite. our kids both know they are different in their own ways - whether it's one being shy and the other out going. we don't hide it from them. we do talk positively about them and their different qualities. we know that he will eventually get over it and he is coming out of his shell more and more.  they also know that they are the way they are because that is how God made them - each special and unique in their own way.

 

sukainah
by Gold Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Thanks for the advice.  My own son says he's shy, I try to get him to talk to other kids.

ceciliam
by Silver Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Great article!

Heather2001
by Bronze Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:44 PM

This is so true.  My mom was one that constantly labeled me as shy and it took me until college to get over it.  I'm NOT shy, lol.

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