What You'll Learn
- How to Foster Self-Esteem and Confidence in Our Kids
- Why Our Own Confidence Matters for Our Children
- Body Image and Raising Confident Kids
- The Role of Boundaries in Raising Confident Kids
- How to Raise Confident Kids in the Technology Age
- How to Start Raising Confident Kids
Many moms struggle with body image and a lack of self-esteem—and we don’t want to pass those things on to our children. But understanding how to raise confident kids isn’t easy. How do we break patterns fueled by diet culture, people-pleasing, and generational cycles?
Today, I’m joined by parenting educator and author Dr. Vanessa Lapointe to discuss how to raise confident kids.
The Journey to Confidence
As a recovering lifelong perfectionist and people-pleaser, I know the importance of confidence. It took me a long time to build my own, and it has become a priority for me to foster a sense of self-esteem and confidence for my boys.
That’s something that is a passion for Dr. Vanessa. She was a high school dropout who struggled with depression, but knew she wanted to help support parents and their children. So she picked herself up, moved forward, and eventually became a psychologist, later transitioning into a full-time global parent educator.
Her work centered on how to understand what makes humans tick, what role we play as parents in the nature vs. nurture debate, and how we can best support our kids so they can grow into the best version of themselves.
Dr. Vanessa believes that the most challenging moments are often where growth and clarity eventually emerge. She has dedicated herself to helping parents overcome their challenges and parent with confidence so they can raise their families in an empowered way.
As part of her mission, her platform has partnered with Dove to create messages of confidence and self-esteem for parents and their kids.
I couldn’t wait to pick Dr. Vanessa’s brain and hear more about the work she’s doing and how we can collectively break cycles and raise confident, self-assured kids.
How to Foster Self-Esteem and Confidence in Our Kids
One of the biggest questions I receive from moms in my DMs is how we can instill self-esteem and security in our children. Many of us weren’t raised in a way that fostered our own confidence. In fact, for so many of us, the exact opposite was true.
But now, we want to break out of those cycles and ensure that we give our children the best foot forward. It isn’t easy to do that when it wasn’t modeled for us.
Dr. Vanessa pointed out that we are raising children in unprecedented times. There are many forces at play around us that didn’t exist in previous generations. So it makes sense that moms are confused about how to take everything—from the internet and social media to our higher level of awareness about mental health—and use it in our parenting approach.
What most of us ultimately want is to put the pieces together in a way that our children's childhood is protected, and that their sense of self is nurtured along the way.
Dr. Vanessa defines self-esteem as the ability to have our narrative about ourselves come from within—so that we aren’t concerned with judgment or outside opinions. Instead, we can stand strongly in our own decisions and our own judgment.
Having self-confidence gives us autonomy in our worth, allowing us to use our internal values to define ourselves instead of external criteria.
Having self-confidence gives us autonomy in our worth.
So many of us want that for our kids, but we might not even have it for ourselves—let alone know how to foster it.
Why Our Own Confidence Matters for Our Children
Dr. Vanessa said that the process begins with shifting the question we’re asking. Instead of wondering, “What do I do to raise confident kids,” we should be asking, “How should I be to raise confident kids?”
When we focus on what we need to do, we can become overwhelmed with an online stream of information—different philosophies, parenting methods, and all the scripts, tips, tricks, and strategies. It can feel like we’re drowning in information.
Dr. Vanessa also said that having so much information at our fingertips can sometimes breed fear that we are going to make the wrong decisions or that we will never be able to know or do enough.
When we have guiding internal principles, we don’t need scripts or strategies.
But when we ask “How should I be?” it changes our approach. Dr. Vanessa said that when we have guiding internal principles, we don’t need scripts or strategies—those details take care of themselves because we are confident that we are the answer our children need.
And, in turn, we model those behaviors for our children. That’s why it’s important to begin with ourselves. If we want our children to show self-compassion, we need to embody that. If we want our children to be confident, we need to model confidence in ourselves.
How often do we exercise compassion for our children, but place blame and shame on ourselves for our mistakes? If we want to move the needle, it’s important to do the self-work to grow ourselves and give ourselves compassion, confidence, acceptance, and assuredness.
Body Image and Raising Confident Kids
Our body image also plays a big role in our self-esteem. Many of us were raised in diet culture, and continue to have a negative body image, especially postpartum.
Dr. Vanessa pointed out that humans are wired to want to be part of the pack, to want to belong. So when we receive repeated messaging about what we should look like or encounter images of a specific body type over and over, there’s a natural gravitational pull toward believing that is the norm.
And when that body type isn’t realistic or attainable for us, it’s no wonder that we feel bad about ourselves. We feel unworthy, like we’re not measuring up, which impacts our entire view of ourselves.
Humans are wired to want to be part of the pack, to want to belong.
This same thing happens to our children. If they feel during their formative years that they are not measuring up to our expectations or that they are not doing the right thing, they internalize that.
Dr. Vanessa said that often focus on communicating to our children when they haven’t reached the bar—but that we can change that approach.
For example, if our toddler bites when they are excited or frustrated, we can either view this as a negative behavior, or we can understand that this is how our child is trying to communicate.
We can still redirect the behavior, perhaps offering chewing toys or another outlet, without making our children feel like they are doing something wrong.
The Role of Boundaries in Raising Confident Kids
It’s important to consider the messages we’re passing to our children and how they impact them. For example, boys are often praised for their athleticism or their intelligence, while girls might be praised for their looks or their cuteness. This unintentionally tells them what they need to focus on to be worthy or fit in.
If we want them to look internally instead of externally for their worth, we have to give them a roadmap that helps them look within.
Creating that roadmap might involve setting boundaries with in-laws or family members about messaging—especially when it comes to looks, body image, eating, and behavior. We can control the secure environment our children have in the home.
For example, we can draw a line and say that in our house we don’t comment on our children’s food choices or shame their behavior. Or we might tell family members that we don’t want our children receiving messaging about gender norms.
We can use our family values—the guiding principles that shape our decisions—to determine these boundaries.
Boundaries not only create a safe and secure environment for our children, but they also model advocacy and confidence for them.
How to Raise Confident Kids in the Technology Age
As our children get older, we might have to do more to create this roadmap. This often might include media literacy or putting protective layers on technology.
Dr. Vanessa said that when it comes to technology, we can think of exposure as a ladder. When our children are first exposed to social media or other technology, they are on the first rung—and we often have more protective layers in place.
For example, we might be right there with them when they’re using technology. We can create boundaries that we aren’t on phones or social media in bedrooms or private spaces.
As they get older and move up the ladder, they are going to be increasingly on their own with their choices. So it’s valuable to have conversations along the way.
Dr. Vanessa pointed out that social media and technology aren’t inherently bad—and we can shape our children’s relationship with them through modeling and communication. We might talk about body image and advertisement messaging, or avoiding comparison or unfollowing certain accounts.
It can be tempting to keep our children away from social media or technology—but it’s also important that we foster their ability to make their own decisions, be wise consumers of technology, and trust themselves to recognize messaging and lean on their values.
Ultimately, we can’t avoid technology exposure. But we can teach our children how to engage with it.
Ultimately, we can’t avoid technology exposure. But we can teach our children how to engage with it in a way that doesn’t hinder or harm their confidence.
How to Start Raising Confident Kids
When we develop our own confidence, model self-compassion and self-assuredness, and help our children feel empowered in their own decision-making abilities, we can start to foster self-esteem and growth.
Dr. Vanessa also recommended visiting the Dove website and downloading The Confidence Kit, which provides conversation starters and tangible tips for how to raise confident kids.
The more that we embody confidence, the more that our children will learn how to stand in their own values and abilities.
Struggling to make confident decisions as a parent? Our therapists can help! We offer virtual parenting support for every stage of the journey. Book a FREE 15 minute virtual consult today.