During my pregnancy with my first child, aside from all the usual worries, my biggest concern was how I was going to handle being a Mum. I’m not really known for my patience, and I always thought of myself as quite a selfish person (turns out I’m not at all!) Dealing with toddler behaviour seemed so far away that it wasn’t really something I considered in the beginning.
But as my own mama confidence grew, it came with the realisation that confidence and independence was the key to how I wanted to raise my kids.
How confidence impacts toddler behaviour
Confidence comes in a whole load of different shapes and forms, but one thing that stays the same is that confidence shapes toddler behaviour. Helping our kids to develop their confidence directly impacts how independent they become.
Confident kids will find solutions to problems they encounter. They’re happy to play independently, and do well in social situations. Confident kids will trust their instincts enough to know when they’ve done something that might have hurt someone else, and they’ll be independent and confident enough to apologise when they’re wrong.
Helping kids develop their sense of confidence will help their academic development too. They will be more likely to see mistakes as something to improve on, rather than proof that they’re a failure. I could wax lyrical for days about the benefits of confidence in kids, but the bottom line is that we all want our kids to be confident and well behaved!
How we promote confidence in our house
Focus on solutions
We always try to think of problems and issues that arise as opportunities to find a solution. It might sound like mumbo jumbo, and we’re far from the perfect family, but it actually works. So instead of focusing on the problem, and inevitably fixing it for them, I steer the kids in the direction of the solution. For example, here’s a brief snapshot of trying to leave for nursery this morning;
4yo “Mum, I want to put my backpack on to walk there”
Me “Okay, go ahead. It’s quite cold outside though, you might need something else first”
4yo “Oh! yeah, I need my coat”
-Puts coat on, then whining-
Me “What’s the problem?”
4yo “I cant get my bag on, it’s so annoying!”
Me “Why can’t you get it on?”
4yo “My hood keeps getting the way!” – throws backpack
Me “Instead of getting cross, can you think of a way to fix your hood being in the way?”
4yo “I could put my hood up on my head…”
Me “Great plan. try that and see if it works”
-It worked. Stress free walk to nursery. Hurrah!-
I could have put the backpack on for her, or got cross with her whining (eurgh, whingers…). Instead, by focusing on how she could fix the problem herself, she learned that problems have solutions and sometimes it’s really simple.
Grab your free guide here
Give them responsibility
Some people think I’m bonkers when I explain that Amelia has responsibilities as a member of the household. It’s not about being a slave driver, and has nothing to do with me wanting to get out of things or being lazy, it’s all down to building her confidence. William’s time will come 😉
The more we trust our kids with responsibilities, the more they trust themselves to do things. I hear kids all the time saying they don’t know how to do something, they cant, or they’re not sure. Not being sure is fine, but I try to remind my kids that if they’re not sure then the only way to find out is to try.
Naturally, this tactic has resulted in a few broken plates (literally when Amelia first started setting the table for dinner), but broken plates can be replaced. Now she knows that one big plate or two small plates is about as much as she can carry at a time.
The first time she broke a plate, we could have removed the plate carrying responsibility. Instead, I showed her how to safely clear it up, and the next day at dinner time she chose to carry one plate a time.
Give them freedom
At the weekend, I asked Amelia to help put away the dishes after Mr C and I had washed and dried. The next day, she asked if there was anything she could do. I explained that I was working and that she was free to have a look around the house and find something to get on with.
About 10 minutes later she came into the living room and started dragging a dining chair out with her, then I heard water running in the kitchen. I stayed where I was, but listened for how long the water ran (to make sure she wasn’t about to flood the place). She turned the tap off and started to sing.
I left her to do whatever she was doing for about 10 minutes, then I went to get myself a drink (code for ‘check up on her’, obvs!) While I made a drink, I asked what she was up to.
“I filled up the sink Mum, I just washed up these bits from breakfast. Is that ok?”
“Wow! Of course it’s ok, thanks for your help chicken!”
“That’s okay Mum! I’m sorry I made a bit of mess on the floor, can you help me wipe it up?”
“Of course I can, here let’s do it together”
If I’d have been hovering over her, the chances are she wouldn’t have felt as confident to carry on with what she was doing. Leaving her to it allowed her to work things out for herself, and also proved to me that she knew some basic safety tips. Don’t make the water too hot, don’t fill the sink up too much, and be careful on wet floors.
Grab your free guide here
Kids are capable of wonderful things, if only we let them…
I’m not going to lie; even I was a bit shocked by the washing up scenario this week! But it was a massive reminder that the way I choose to parent seems to be taking us all in the direction I envisioned. Thinking about the times that Amelia does cool stuff like this massively makes up for the tantrums and scream fests.
Hearing my 4yo tell me that “she’s just thinking of a solution” when I ask her what she’s thinking about is one of the best feelings in the world.
She’s no different to other kids her age. She has tantrums, she moans when she can’t get her own way, she needs reminding several times a day that no means no. But, the kid can order her own drink in a coffee shop. She can tell an adult her full name and address if she gets lost, and she understands that her actions have consequences. She makes a mean slice of jammy toast, and I don’t reckon we’re too far from making Mum a bad-ass cup of coffee!