As parents, we all want our kids to go out into the world confident in their abilities and ready to tackle anything. But our instinct is to help as much as we can—even to the point of helicopter parenting and preventing them from learning resilience. So what are the best ways to ensure our kids build self-confidence? We spoke to Alanna Levine, MD, a New York-based pediatrician and mom to Sophie and Charlie, about how we can achieve this worthy goal. The first thing to realize? It’s a gradual process that starts very early. “When you empower your child from the start, and resist solving their problems for them, they gain confidence and know that you believe in them,” says Dr. Levine. See below for her best advice, and for more, check out her video below, featuring The Local Moms Network co-founder Megan Sullivan and products from our partner Stokke, the Scandinavian brand designing better products that strengthen the bond between babies and parents.
Start Earlier Than You Think
At six months, moms notice their baby will reach for toys. “If you notice that your child wants something, encourage her to reach for it,” says Dr. Levine. If you hand it to her, she won’t get that important opportunity to learn how to reach it herself.
Of course, we all hope our kids will succeed and wanting to help them is natural. “However, if you sit back and watch your toddler struggle to put his pants on, at some point he will have mastery of the skill and will be dressing himself while you are doing something else,” says Dr. Levine.
Practice on the Weekend
If exercising this patience is impossible, say, in the 8 am preschool rush, it’s totally fine to help a bit more during the week when necessary, and encourage them to practice new skills on the weekend.
Know that It’s Worth It
Although practicing these techniques of patience and persistence can be exhausting (particularly when dealing with toddlers), the more skills they know, the less you have to do—and the more self-reliant they’ll be as adults. Says Dr. Levine: “Learning at an early age that you have the skills to seek and acquire new information, and that you have the patience to keep trying until you succeed, will help children grow into confident capable adolescents and young adults.”
This story is sponsored by Stokke. Rooted in Scandinavia, Stokke products facilitate the freedom for children to grow with independence in a safe environment.