3 Steps to a Happy, Confident Child

Article published in Woman’s Day Magazine, 31 January 2011.

Child development expert Dr Rosina McAlpine shows how to boost your child’s confidence and beat the back-to-school stress.

STEP 1: Use Actions Not Words

How often have you said, “Not now, I’m on the phone” or “I’m too busy”? 
“Most parents are very busy, which adds to the stress of dealing with children,” Dr Rosina McAlpine says. “But how would you feel if someone talked to you that way? It’s important to let your kids know you value their opinions as much as anyone else’s” Instead of hurting your child’s feelings, try these solutions

On the phone Ask the person to hold, then say to your child “I’m very interested in what you have to say but I can’t talk now. I’ll be off the phone in ten minutes and we’ll talk then.”
When busy “Sorry darling I’m busy doing something for work. Let’s talk about it at dinner.”

When cooking “I can’t talk now because it’s dangerous with a hot stove and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

STEP 2: Focus on the Behaviour Not the Child

Biting. Hitting. Nose picking. Ignoring requests. Children do so many things adults find unacceptable and often our automatic reaction is to say “You’re so naughty” or “You’re so cheeky/rude/bad”. 
“Try focussing on their behaviour rather than them” Says Dr McAlpine. “For example say ‘biting hurts. It is not OK to bite/speak in that tone/be rude’. Children who feel good about themselves are more likely to try new things and are less likely to be defensive or insecure. Regularly telling a child they’re naughty might mean they believe it for life.”

Child development expert Dr Rosina McAlpine shows how to boost your child’s confidence and beat the back-to-school stress.

STEP 3: Teach your child Gratitude

A grateful attitude can reduce depression and make children aware of what is important to their true happiness, research shows. Teach your child to be grateful by:
Keeping a journal Ask them to record the things they love about their life. They can use words, pictures, stickers - whatever they like.
Bedtime thank-you “Invite your child to share who and what they are grateful for. It’s a lovely way to go to sleep” says Dr McAlpine.

For find out more about the benefits of a life skills approach to parenting please click here