Our children need to have confidence in who they are if they are to step out and be all that God has made them be. They need confidence in talking to other people, they need confidence to try new things, they need confidence to solve problems and think creatively, they need confidence to be themselves in a world that that thinks differently.
What will give them this confidence?
1–Seeing themselves as God sees them. God made them and then He died for them. This establishes how much God loves them. John 3:16. I grew up with a story about a little boy who made a boat, lost his boat, found his boat but had to buy it back. Once he got his boat safely back in his arms his comment was – you are mine, twice over. I made you and I bought you. This is what God has done for us. He made us, and then he died for us – we are His twice over! Our children need to know this truth.
2–Knowing parental love and acceptance. Just as God loves us unconditionally we need to love our children unconditionally. (But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV)
Our children need to see things – they are concrete beings. We cannot just tell them we love them, they must see it, they must feel it, they must know it with all of their senses. Love is not an academic subject – it is a verb – we can see it happening. We need to consider our reactions, our attitude, our body language when we respond to our children – does it tell them we love them, even when we hurt over some of their choices? Or does it tell them they need to be fixed and then we’ll love them?
3–Being competent with life skills. Life skills don’t just happen – they need to be taught. Some skills will come easier to some children than others – but regardless of the natural abilities we need to persevere and teach our children life skills. We must teach our children to be able to meet new people and start conversation, to think creatively, to try new things, speak publicly, to organise themselves, to step out and do the things on their hearts, to take advice but shut out criticism. We need to teach our children the practical skills necessary to look after themselves and other people – to cook, clean, iron, drive a car, fix, build, sew, understand technology, handle money wisely – the list could go on.
4–Be Other’s Aware: There is one other thing that I believe will build confidence in our children and that is for them to be habitually thinking of the other person. Jesus taught that we are ‘to love your neighbour as you love yourself’ (Matthew 22:39) I can see it in my children’s lives that they stand tall when they know they have blessed another person, when they have encouraged or helped someone else. They can love other people because they know they themselves are loved by God and their family.
Building Our Children’s Self Esteem
Building our child’s self-esteem is a catch phrase today – it is seen as the answer to many youth problems and maybe it is. But how we address this issue needs to be founded on what the Bible has to say rather than on the studies of man.
Self-esteem is what we think about ourselves, this unfortunately is often driven by our emotions. If life is good then I’m okay. If life takes a turn for the worse, then I’m not okay and nobody would want to love me. One of the things my father taught me was ‘objective truth’. Truth is truth regardless of circumstances. I may feel bad, but the truth is….
Read more about Objective Truth
What is the truth? The truth is as the Bible states it.
- I am God’s workmanship – Ephesians 2:10
- I have been forgiven all my sins – Colossians 1:13-14
- I am free from condemnation – Romans 8:1-2
- I am God’s child – John 1:12
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13
These things don’t change with circumstances – when I feel sad, lonely, or unable these things remain true. I need to discipline myself to focus on the truth. I may not feel this is the truth but I need to know that it is.
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ is a phrase we have just added to our family vocab. Stinkin’ Thinkin’ is where our thoughts are focused on ourselves, our short comings, our woes, our circumstances and the more we think about ourselves we head downwards in a spiral where nothing good will come out of it. Instead we need to lift our eyes upward to God and align our thinking with His thinking.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills,
from where comes my help.
Psalm 121:1 (NAS)
The starting Place for Building Confidence
Our children’s confidence needs to be built on a more solid foundation than simply what they think or feel about themselves on any given day. Or that they can look within themselves and approve of what they see – this will be short lived. Instead they need to acknowledge that they are okay because that is what God says! This gives them the confidence to go forth and be who God has made them be.
N.B. God loves us while we are sinners and yet his ultimate desire is for us to have relationship with us. He does not want us to, neither does He say it is okay for us to stay in our sinful state. This is why Jesus came.
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We need to teach our children to listen to their heart – to know what they believe about themselves so they don’t listen to what other’s think of them.
Heart focus parenting is about teaching our children beliefs and values, it is about training their character and preparing them to be able to make wise choices in their life.