Practical ideas for raising a happy, confident child

There are many factors at play when it comes to raising a well-rounded, happy, confident child. Age, interests, home life, learning ability, fortitude, maturity, and personality characteristics are just a few. Life is unpredictable and children are inherently unique, so there is no checklist from which parents can mark items off until their happy child is complete (although that sure would make parenting easier!). But there are practical behaviors that you can practice to increase the likelihood that your child will thrive in spite of the many challenges they will face growing up in the 21st century.

Be consistent. Your child should always know that you love them and are there for them, despite their grades, social status, appearance, hobbies, disposition, or talents. As a parent, it is important that you know your child, but resist the urge to choose their interests and goals.

Set age-appropriate boundaries. Clearly establish and consistently enforce rules, along with consequences when the rules are broken. While your child may not agree, strong enforcement of right and wrong will build their confidence and sense of security.

Make sure your child has a support network. Of course, parents plan to always be there for their children, but parents aren’t enough. Friends, relatives, neighbors, teachers, religious leaders and church members all play important roles in a child’s life. The more responsible people who care about your child, the better.

Embrace God. God is always present and is the ultimate support for all of us. Don’t assume your child knows this just because your family has never missed a Sunday at church. Every day you should talk about the many blessings God has bestowed on your child and others. When something inevitably goes wrong – receiving a poor grade, arguing with a sibling, not making the baseball team or not getting invited to a party – your child should know that God is a constant, He loves us and He is listening to every prayer that is said.

Allow children to make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes, so it isn’t a parent’s job to shield their children from mistakes. It is a parent’s job to help steer their children in the right direction, while still allowing them to make decisions that sometimes will result in undesirable outcomes. Making mistakes and learning from them is how people develop confidence.

By applying these rules, little by little your child will gain confidence in his or her judgment and know that with the help of God they will be able to handle whatever comes their way. And that is what builds a happy, healthy child who grows into a happy, healthy adult.