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Two Ways Parents Kill Their Kids' Confidence

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

The parenting mistakes you are probably making are common.

Are you making any of these common parenting mistakes?

There are 2 ways that parents kill their kids' confidence.

This is something that we all do. If you know these mistakes, you will not only be able to prevent yourself from repeating them but also give yourself a chance to avoid other parenting mistakes in the future.

What would you do in this situation?

Your child has been practicing the piano for a few months and has a recital coming up. Your child's excited to perform and show off what they've learned, but they practice infrequently, and when they do, you notice they make quite a few mistakes.

How can you best support them?

Enter self-determination theory, which is the study of the core needs central to our psychological well-being, which affects things like motivation, confidence, and success.

Ultimately, self-determination comes down to the ability to make your own choices and control your life.

It boils down to three fundamental things, mastery, which is also called competence, connection, which is also called relatedness, and autonomy, which is also called autonomy.

What's important to understand here is that all three of these needs are essential. When they're met, we and our children are automatically motivated to explore, learn, and create.

On the other hand, if any of these needs goes unmet, our energies automatically shift to doing whatever we can to meet that need, whether or not it seems rational or healthy.

And when a child can't get any one of these needs met or worse has to sacrifice one to get the other, it can damage their self-confidence, and it can directly affect their behavior and their relationships.

Unfortunately, many parenting and social norms actively undermine these needs, and having to trade one for another is super common.

In this three-part series, I'm gonna share common ways we adults hurt our kids without even being aware of it.

Remember, whatever mistakes you've made along the way or will make, there's always time to course correct even when your kids are grown.

Today we're gonna talk about the first need, mastery.

Mastery is the experience of getting better and better at something and being good at something you worked really hard at. Sometimes the process of building mastery is uncomfortable. It means trying something, messing up, and trying again.

When we get that experience of hard-earned mastery, it gives us confidence and the willingness to take on more.

On the other hand, if we do not have it, it can lead to experiences of self-doubt, apathy, or fear of even trying. All of these have negative effects on our motivation.

Here are the two common ways parents kill their kids' confidence.

Kids confidence killer #1 - Rescuing

Well-intentioned as you surely are, unless there's a risk of serious injury, resist the impulse to stop your kid from falling off the merry-go-round or going to school without lunch because they've forgotten it for the millionth time.

It may sound harsh because your kid could get hurt or go hungry, but this direct experience of cause and effect not only helps them learn the lessons for themselves, but it also teaches them not to be afraid of making mistakes and how to navigate those mistakes when they happen. It's better to learn from little mistakes now than big ones later.

Kids confidence killer #2 - Correcting

Every time we correct our kids without being asked, we send them a message that they're incapable and we rob them of the opportunity to build mastery in themselves.

Unless your input is actively solicited, just let your kids do it their way. How they dress, how they speak, all of that is really up to them.

Note this is also a connection killer.

So let's go back to that first example with your child who's been practicing the piano for months and is excited about the upcoming recital. You know, they're probably gonna make mistakes.

Based on what you now know about mastery, how would you handle that situation?

Chances are, you may find some items on this list anywhere from surprising to downright challenging.

Which ones impacted you the most or surprised you?

Let me know in the comments.

This is an update to the first version of this article published originally on SFBAM website.

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