Jenny Denton over at Denton's Sanatorium has issued another writing assignment: The Most Important Principles You Can Teach Your Children. You can read all of the offerings here. This is such a huge topic that it was hard to know where to begin. There are so many things we try to instill in our children, but I've always thought that in order to have a healthy outlook on life, we must instill self confidence in our children. A child with self confidence realizes his own self worth. He has respect and exhibits kindness to others. He has no need to bully or belittle to feel important. He has compassion for those who are sad or hurt. To me, this is the very basis of being able to give charity, a helping hand, and to be able to exhibit humility at the same time. It's the very first thing you need to be able to have confidence in the work you do each day.
When my children were little I always told them that it was their duty to stick up for others who were being picked on - that they should never sit by and do nothing while someone was being bullied. I'm proud to say that as they were growing up I saw many instances where each one of them came to another child's assistance. It took a fair amount of courage, and sometimes they got tormented themselves in the process, but they were, and are, brave people.
I feel that if children have a healthy bit of self confidence they will be leaders - sometimes they are quiet leaders, but leaders nonetheless. (Well, none of my children are quiet leaders, but that's another story...) They won't wait to see which way the wind blows before making a decision. No one will be able to talk them into doing something they know is wrong. There are so many voices talking, talking, talking to our children, trying desperately to get their attention. They need to have enough confidence in who they are, and their valued place in our Heavenly Father's plan, to be able to hear that one quiet voice that will always guide them to the right decision. It's important to have enough faith in their own ability to discern the correct answer, so they won't feel the need to rely on opinions from friends or to be tempted to think that other's opinions are more important than the whisperings from the Spirit that they're entitled to.
Self confidence gives them the gift of courage to stand up for the right. I remember my oldest telling a friend in pre-school with perfect confidence that something the friend was doing "wasn't Jesus' plan." This same son later, while having a conversation with a friend on the phone at about age 12 said he had to hang up because it was time for Family Home Evening. He wasn't self conscious about explaining what that was - he was confident in his thoughts and actions. The other two were just as assertive, if not more so. I'm not saying that I was able to totally give them this gift - thankfully, they were blessed with their dad's assertive personality rather than my shy one - but I always tried to help them realize how smart, how capable, how important, how truly loved they were. Once children feel empowered with self confidence, they are free to be kind and charitable towards others, to have confidence that their actions and good works are important and valued, and to absolutely know they are loved by their Heavenly Father no matter what. They are not afraid to try new things, to learn new skills. Each success builds more success.
I didn't do everything perfectly (far from it) but I have good children who are, in turn, good adults and trying to teach their own children to be self confident, loving, and happy. Speaking for myself, I wish I'd had half their confidence growing up. I might have progressed a little faster. Our oldest granddaughter Lexi just graduated from preschool the other day. I'll leave you with some pictures of her on that happy day - one success preceding a lifetime of them.