By Diane Ako
We all want children to be happy and grow into productive, fulfilled adults, and according to parenting expert Maureen Healy, the secret to that success is in providing a foundation of inner confidence. Healy, a popular columnist for Psychology Today and the PBS Series, This Emotional Life, literally traveled the world in search of the best practices in raising inwardly strong children, and the connection between inner confidence and lasting happiness.
Her new book, Growing Happy Kids, draws on her Buddhist training, her background in child psychology, and the latest scientific research. Her book is packed with guidance and ideas to help parents achieve success raising kids who are strong and confident.
She offers seven specific action plans parents can take to create inner confidence and cultivate a sense of emotional strength that lays the foundation for children's happiest lives:
1. Build Confidence Daily (even for 5 minutes!): It is the everyday things we do with our children that help them feel stronger, and happier no matter what. So you may say affirmations together on the way to school (they are captive here!) or read a bedtime story every night that teaches about your child’s power within - the point is that small things done over and over again really build your child’s sense of strength.
2. Get Them Moving: Children need to move their bodies and get their energy released in a healthy way. Because physical activity, eating right, and a good night’s rest are the biological basis of your child’s emerging sense of self-confidence. Also, be sure they do something they love from making a garden to becoming a soccer star. (Let them pick it!)
3. Sign Them Up for 1 Weekly Confidence Building Activity: Your child’s weekly confidence building activity may be a sport like soccer or something else like singing lessons. Most importantly, they need to see themselves succeed (really important) and also have a regular way to see themselves master a task thus building outer then inner confidence.
4. See Success Together (visualize, affirm, meditate, pray, and sing): Oprah always says that if you can believe it, you can achieve it. So help your child believe more fully in him or herself. Perhaps it is doing affirmations together like “I love me” and “I am amazing in every way” or doing a guided meditation, singing a song that sparks them up or drawing a vision board. Let your creativity loose so you both become more self-assured. Have fun with this!!!
5. Get Inspired: Do something inspiring together whether it is going to see magnificent waterfalls, flying a new kite on the beach or learning hula-hooping. By doing something that lights your child up, they learn how to build a new skill and you’ll see their confidence soar.
6. Create an Uplifting Space: Decorate your child’s space so they see happy photos of themselves, their awards displayed, goals (or vision board) hung up and they have their favorite things all around them. By making the space feel good to your child they’ll realize this world is supporting them, their dreams can come true and everyone wants to see them succeed. (Feng Shui can help too!)
7. Play More: Happier children know the importance of play whether they are outdoors helping their parents’ garden or playing tag with their peers! So the more you help your child build skills, see their power within and play in their daily lives the happier they’ll be.