10 Essential Tips For Parents To Raise Successful, Confident Kids

Fortune Well October 7, 2023


10 Essential Tips For Parents To Raise Successful, Confident Kids

Raising resilient children is daunting. How can you set kids up for success in this pressure-cooker environment of FOMO and competition? One parenting expert says to start by putting less emphasis on wins, practicing patience, giving grace, and redefining success. Will Elliott, a life coach and co-founder of The Action Effect, a coaching company geared toward parents and teen relationships, runs an Instagram account for parents looking to raise self-assured kids. He provides parenting strategies to “raise confident, courageous and character-centered tweens/teens,” according to his account.

As young adults feel the most lonely compared to older generations, it’s readily apparent that many struggle with their mental health. These forces can diminish young adults’ confidence. However, finding ways to encourage self-trust can rival the uncomfortable nature of uncertainty in their lives, Elliott highlights in his online posts. 


Here are Elliott’s ten ways to boost your child’s confidence:  


1. Less lecturing, more listening 

Instead of jumping in with solutions when you sense something is wrong, practice pausing and listening. 

“Let go of your desire to ‘fix’ their problems and recognize it’s in those problems they get meaningful experience that creates a lasting impact,” Elliott, who has coached teens and parents since 2019, wrote in a recent Instagram post.

Listening helps create trust and allows for vulnerability in a relationship.  


2. Catch them doing little things right 

Acknowledge the small wins, which will slowly amount to big ones. Be encouraging about everything from homework to doing the dishes—daily habits that instill helpful skills and values, says Elliot. 

“The way we build self-esteem is by doing esteemable acts,” Aja Chavez, therapist and executive director of adolescent services at Mission Prep, a residential adolescent mental health treatment program in California, previously told Fortune. “Chores create a sense of community and connection and start to build in personal responsibility.”

3. Stop moving the target 

Stop “moving the destination of success,” Elliott reminds parents. It can make kids feel like they will never hit the bullseye or do things right in the eyes of their parents.  

4. Seek to understand 

About to lay down the law or have the urge to raise your voice to get your point across? Instead, ask your child why they decided to take a specific action and respond from there.

Shift your mindset to, “I’m here to understand your heart and your struggles,” Elliott writes. 

5. Get curious about what’s actually causing the behavior 

Slamming the door, albeit disrespectful, may also stem from something completely unrelated and signal frustration or embarrassment. Without judgment, try to understand why certain emotions and actions take place. Kids are more likely to listen and share when they feel heard.

6. Practice the parenting pause 

This one is just as it sounds. When you want to react out of emotion, stop, breathe, and take a beat. 

7. The teenage years are for progress

Ultimately, you need to let children figure things out for themselves and remember that setbacks are part of growth. 

“The more pressure you put on yourself to be a perfect parent and have perfect kids, the more pressure you inevitably put on them,” Elliott writes. “Surrender. Let it go…”

8. Praise character more than results 

Elliott encourages parents to place higher importance on their children’s effort and character instead of their results. 

“When kids attach their confidence and success to things they can control, like effort and character, they’re unstoppable,” Elliott said in another post. 

Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman has echoed this same ethos, saying there is a scientifically unhelpful way to praise your children: hint, don’t tell them they are gifted and talented. When praise relates to someone’s results, the brain conflates the sense of self and identity with that success. Therefore, someone’s level of confidence directly depends on their subsequent accomplishments. 

“If you’re a parent or teacher, you have to be very careful about giving feedback to a child that is attached to their identity around an endeavor, especially if they’re performing well at that endeavor,” Andrew Huberman, a professor at Stanford School of Medicine and host of the Huberman Lab, said in his podcast. 

Praising children for their results doesn’t encourage them to have a growth mindset, defined as feeling encouraged to try new ways of solving challenging problems. In fact, it may cause them to work less diligently. Instead, praise their kids with action verbs based on their effort.

9. Lead by example 

It’s important to be the example you hope your kids will emulate. If you don’t want social media running your kid’s life, don’t walk around the house posting pictures of the dog or your pasta dinner. 

10. Get clear on what success looks like 

The definition of success is different for everyone. Check-in with yourself and understand what success means for you. It’s easy to get caught up in who won what or got which grade, but it’s the effort and the values your kids demonstrate that matter. 

When you praise someone’s character, grit, and drive, they will continue to put in the effort even if the outcome is uncertain. That more nuanced definition of success can help kids manage difficulty and feel proud of themselves.

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