We all – well, all of us who are parents – want to raise happy, self-confident children. I, like many parents, believe that the single most important tool we can try to give our children is a belief in their own abilities. Self confidence transcends any skill, knowledge or ability a person can have and, with self-confidence, kids will be prepared for anything life throws at them.
But how do you express disappointment without undermining self confidence? It was report card time last week and my daughter did OK. Not great, but OK. She is a bright kid but this report card reflected a pattern we have consistently seen, where she works hard enough to get by but does not push herself to do her best.
When we asked her how she thought her report card was, her answer was that she thought she did great. She didn’t do great; she did OK. But, as a parent, how do you address that without undermining their self confidence, which at 12 years old, is likely a little fragile?
I have erred on the side of honesty in the past, saying straight up that she is capable of better. I then move quickly into a game plan to improve her performance. I don’t know if this is the best approach as it seems to get her defences up. When I say she is not doing her best work she admits that she is not (too quickly) and agrees to basically anything just to get the uncomfortable conversation to end. In the end, her heart only seems halfway into improvements. Surely this is not the best solution.