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Self Confidence

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Self Confidence in Parenting

There's a reason why so many people say it's the hardest job you'll ever have--raising a child. It's challenging, exciting, nerve-wracking, and one of the most amazing things you'll ever experience. Raising a child will put you through every emotion possible, including self-doubt. Along with the joy of raising a child can come the fear that you're going to do something wrong, create permanent psychological damage, or a whole list of other things that may not go quite right. But relax--keeping a few simple things in mind can help raise your confidence as a parent.

First, know that you will make mistakes. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. If you keep this in mind, you can take a great deal of pressure off yourself. Do your best, of course, but understand that there will be bumps along the road--possibly quite a few of them. Rather than trying to be a perfect parent, do what you can to prepare for those bumps. Understand where your child is in development and learn what to expect; then expect the unexpected. Also remember that the worst may not happen. Your child may not go through the "terrible twos" or be a reckless teenager. Remember that all children are different. Try not to compare your child or your parenting to others or you may cause yourself unnecessary stress.

Don't believe everything the experts say. Sure, many experts have experience working with hundreds or even thousands of children. Listen to what they have to say, but don't take it as the final say. You know your child better than anyone, and if a piece of advice doesn't seem right for your child, trust your instincts. You're probably right. What may have worked for others may not work for you, and that's okay. Family and friends are also likely to provide you with ample advice, some of which may be useful and some of which may not. Try to avoid the temptation of giving in to pressure from others if you feel that it is not right for your family situation. This can be difficult, particularly in close relationships. But establishing those boundaries because you know what's best for your child will help increase your confidence simply by knowing that you can determine what's best for you and stand up for it.

Spend time with your child. This may sound like old advice, but more and more studies show that children whose parents show an interest in them are better equipped to deal with some of life's challenges. This also helps you know your child better, which will in turn help you make better choices. It works well for everyone involved.

Seek help when you need it. This may sound contradictory to the earlier statements, but it's actually not. When you know your child and his or her needs well, you have a much better understanding of what advice to accept and what to reject. If you are dealing with a difficult or serious situation, and feel that it is out of your control, it's time to seek outside help. This does not mean you are a failure. Rather, it shows that you are confident enough in yourself and your parenting to recognize that you may not have all the answers. Certain situations, such as out of control behavior or drug abuse require outside intervention. It's okay to ask for help when you need it, so don't put yourself down if this is the case.

Finally, remember that you are doing the best you can at any given moment. Life doesn't go smoothly all the time, and this is often most obvious in parenting. It's okay to make mistakes and even admit them. And when your children see you do this, you'll show them that a confident person is not perfect and that everyone makes mistakes from time to time. This in turn will help your children feel more confident when they make mistakes, too.