I was born in the 70s and I think of the 80s as very much the era of my childhood. I don’t know about anyone else but I was given the distinct impression that modesty rather than confidence was the way to go. Parents were in charge, kids whilst loved and cared for needed to fit in and all adults were to be treated with respect. Like a lot of new parents of my generation, this is what I initially drew upon. I just forgot to take into account how much the world has changed.
For various reasons, life appears to be harder for the next generation and in my mind, that together with an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing has meant that confidence is more important than ever. I was brought up to loathe overconfidence and to this day detest boasting, the phrase “pride comes before a fall” tends to come to mind when I am in the company of boasters. Therefore, in order to instill confidence and a strong sense of self in my boys, I am needing to rethink my parenting somewhat.
Firstly, I am focusing on praising the boys when they have done well in whatever shape or form this may take. It goes against the grain, cause sometimes I think they should do things because they are told to and should remember to do whatever needs doing anyway. I am hoping that improved behaviour will be the result of me taking the time to acknowledge what has been done well. After all, its fair to say that most people respond more positively to praise than criticism.
The second area I am looking to focus on is increased independence. The temptation is to do everything for the boys so that it gets done properly and so that I don’t look bad when things get forgotten or are not up to scratch. It occurred to me that when I do everything for the boys, I am almost giving them the message that they cannot do things for themselves and are somehow incapable. If I can make them believe that they are able to remember things, do things properly and behave in a responsible way, the idea is that they will believe that too. Hopefully the effect will be positive and I will have a bit less to do. See, as is true to form, there is a selfish motive there.
Finally, I am trying to remain calm and pick my battles, mainly by shouting less, deep breathing and walking away (often). I mentioned selfish motives earlier, here the selfish motive is my stress levels. For example, the other day the boys were deliberately late getting ready for school, they seemed to go into slow motion, the clock was ticking and I’m pretty sure that my blood pressure went through the roof (so much for my well-being). We got to the point of no return, we were going to be late, no question. I struggled not to shout, although being late is a pet hate of mine. I was brought up to believe that if I was late it was akin to thinking that I was important enough to inconvenience other people by holding them up. I decided that I would let the boys be late and get in trouble at school if it came to that, the logic being that they would not be late again and would have their confidence boosted by improved punctuality and organisational skills (says she).
By the way just in case you think I’m trying to rebrand myself as some sort of parenting guru, I’m truly not. My plans outlined above are very much aspirational, although a bit of success and improvement would be good.