Confident, Calm and Happy Kids
Confident, Calm and Happy Kids

As a parent, you want your kids to be happy.  And confident.  And calm.  Oh, and it would be good if they slept well too, right?

But sometimes that’s easier said than done.  Recently, I was working with a parent, who was suffering from stress.  One thing that compounded her stress was that her kids were keeping her awake for hours on end after a full day at work and juggling various life challenges.  She asked if there was anything I could suggest to help her kids.  Because I was working with the mum on her own issues rather than her children, I decided to create an MP3 for the kids while giving some coaching to the mum.

Her kids had real problems sleeping, had become very clingy and had developed behavioural issues.  They were going through a lot of change including their parents’ separation, having to move house and going through the complexities of shared custody.  Their mum was running on empty.  The first night she played the MP3 for her children it worked like a charm.

However, it’s also useful to think about what we are doing as parents that might be helping or getting in the way of our children being confident, calm and happy, even when life gets tricky.

Here are 10 tips to help your kids be confident, calm and happy:

1. Lead by example

Life can be tough, we all know that.  But your kids will be taking their cues from you.  If you are showing signs of stress, irritability and low mood, that’s very likely to upset your child.  There’s an inconvenient truth here too:  your kids can pick up vibes even though you feel you are doing your best to hide what’s happening.  So, work on yourself if you can.  Get professional support if it feels too hard.

2. Establish structure and routine

This helps your children feel safe and secure, especially if their is a lot of change they are going through.  We all strive for predictability.  In an uncertain world, elements of this can form a really secure foundation for them.  It doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a bit of sponteneity too, but let it be within a broadly structured environment.  This includes a regular sleep and wake routine.

3. Set good boundaries

This again helps them feel secure, even if they may not like it at first.  It’s all too easy, when times are challenging, to smudge the boundaries in the belief it will make life easier.  But a short term ‘solution’ leads to long term problems.  As we have already said, children feel safer with routine and good boundaries form part of that.  But also important is that if you have a habit of giving in, they are simply learning to challenge you.  Stay consistent in maintaining your boundaries and this level of predictability helps them feel safer.

4. Practice mindfulness

Do this with them or in front of them if they seem reluctant at first.  This will normalise the practice and they will soon start to join in.  Mindfulness helps them to focus their attention and be present.  It is great for helping to reduce anxiety.

5. Teach them EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

This is a gentle yet powerful tool which helps them to deal with negative emotions in a constructive way.   Instead of distracting from these emotions with screen time, biscuits or sweets (which only suppresses them), it helps to process them.  I have created a useful video to help you with EFT.  If you prefer some one to one coaching on this, do get in touch.

6. Limit screen time

I know how difficult this is.  But there is plenty of evidence that this is detrimental to their mental health, self-esteem and sleep.  Don’t allow screens in their rooms while they are winding down or during sleep time.  Get them interested in playing outdoors, reading, playing games with the family and/or friends.  This helps them develop social skills too.

7. Nurture social skills

Having positive relationships is really important and, as we all know, they don’t always go right all of the time.  The ability to create and maintain relationships is so important when they are young because it is a skill they will need throughout life.  Now is the time to start.  They will need to learn communication skills, empathy, kindness, how to share, how to play with others and how to deal with tricky situations constructively.

8. Foster resilience

I love a quote and one of my favourites is this by Sloan Wilson “The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles.  A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom.  The realisation that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.”  We have become a society that is so protective, trying to save our children from any pain, discomfort or failure.  But to raise a resilient child is to help them face these problems so they learn how to cope rather than avoid.  And to learn from experience.  Failure is OK – it’s the best way to learn.

9. Demonstrate and promote good problem solving skills

Rather than coming to you for the answers all the time (what an easy trap that is to fall into), encourage them to brainstorm solutions to age-appropriate problems and decide which might work best themselves.  The sooner they start to learn this skill, the more confident and resilient they will be.

10. Balance praise with constructive feedback

Always acknowledge accomplishments so they repeat what’s going well.  But be wary of criticism which can create an aversion to trying new things.  Instead praise the good part of something and ask them what would make it even better next time.  There should always be more positive than negative and the negative should always be constructively worded.

Bonus Tip

Here’s a bonus one I couldn’t resist:  Mind your language.  There are some subtle things we say that either help or hinder confidence and calm.  The most common one is when we say “don’t be scared”.  You may think this kind and helpful, but the way the subconscious mind works means that your child will focus on “scared”, so it has a counterproductive effect.  Much more effective is to say “it’s OK – you’ve got this” or something similar.  This is reassuring and helps build their confidence. resilience and ability to cope.

A strong foundation in childhood creates the best inner environment for them to become fully functioning, independent, confident, successful adults who can enjoy a fulfilling career, healthy relationships and be able to run their lives well.   The foundations are built today, and in each new day.

If you need any help, do get in touch.

(C) Tricia Woolfrey