Is your little one shy? Like really shy? Even around family and friends, does the shyness take over unless they’re super comfortable with those around them or their environment? Sure, some kids just naturally grow out of that—but how can you help boost their confidence now?
We talked to Paula Brañez, a children’s life coach at McKinney’s allUneedisU Kids Life Studio, about how she thinks parents can help their kiddo out of the shy stage.
Consider Their Age
Brañez usually helps kids ages 7–17. She explains that around 8 years old, kids start to understand the character traits they have. “Before that, they’re not as aware; parents help them understand before,” she explains. “After 8, they can then understand on their own. That’s when they can start being responsible for their own internal communication.”
Find What Makes Them Unique
Through her sessions, Brañez helps kids find their “superpowers“—aka their individual strengths and abilities. “[This is] not necessarily their way of playing sports or talents—like playing an instrument—but their skills that make them unique, [such as] their kindness, their ability to make people comfortable around them, being trustworthy, being a fresh breath of air for others,” she notes.
It Starts With You
Brañez notes that a child’s confidence starts with you, Mom and Dad. “Parents play a huge role on building confidence in their children,” she says. “It’s key to give them positive affirmations, affirmations that create a healthy self-love and confidence. By saying these to them, it’s easier for them to start believing in themselves. They realize they’re good enough.”
Bring On the Activities
One way Brañez helps boost her clients’ confidence is through a writing activity. She will ask parents to write a letter about how they see their child—what are some qualities they are proud of? Are they funny? Are they creative? Write those down and give the letter to your child. “[It] helps boost their confidence because they get to see how people see them, and their perspective about themselves changes,” she says. “That makes a huge difference.”
She also has her clients create a poster with the words “I am” in the middle. “Every night, they add an affirmation based on something they did that day,” she explains. “Then they read all of them. By reading them consistently, they can own [what they say]. Of course, it’s not like every day will be great, so when they don’t have something to add, I have them read what they already have and remember a time they showed one of those traits.”
On top of parents saying affirmations and kids writing down qualities they’re proud of, she says have your child tell themselves the affirmations everyday too, so they know what makes them unique. “Once [they] own that, [they] start behaving in a different way,” she notes. “[They realize], I don’t have to be shy now because I’m enough, I’m confident.”
Consider Their Environment
A child’s environment impacts their confidence as well. “A shy kid needs a strong environment that helps him or her feel secure—to be accepted for who he or she is without criticism and without comparison,” Brañez adds. “Kids are unique in their own way, and sometimes we treat them as a ‘one size fits all,’ not understanding that what makes them different is what makes them unique.”
Give Them Time
Of course, even with this type of approach, change isn’t going to happen overnight. Brañez says being confident starts with consistent baby steps. “Our brain is usually focused on the negative, so it depends on how much your child practices,” she notes. “The more practice, the faster your child will gain that confidence. And this isn’t creating a fake confidence, it’s focusing on the positive traits that your child has. Celebrate the small wins.”
If you’re interested in taking your kiddo to a session with Brañez, you can contact her by calling 972/834-0768 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of iStock.