Northwest Community Hospital

FALL 2014

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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17 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m FA L L 2 014 S P I R I T O F W O M E N SHUTTERSTOCK 1. Spend time on quality, one-on-one play when your child is young. 2. Offer your child opportunities to try a variety of activities. 3. Separate your own emotions from your child's successes and failures. 4. Support your child whether he or she succeeds or fails. "The parent has to nurture a positive relationship," says Dr. Jeanne Goodman, New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y. "That means quality, individual playtime, positive feedback and the opportunity to try a variety of things. Then, you need to let your child succeed or fail and support him either way." child to some extent," says Dr. Snyder. "For example, Dad may want their kid to be a football player, and the child may be interested in the arts. We need to see what the child is interested in, and not put what we want them to do on top of that." LEARNING FROM DISAPPOINTMENTS Helping your child build confidence also means letting her fail sometimes. If your child wants to do something that you know she's not as talented at, you need to be willing to step back and let the child come to that realization. "Disappointments are part of life," says Dr. Goodman. "If the parent's own mood, well-being and confidence seems to rise and fall with the child's successes and failures, that puts an enormous amount of pressure on the child. It can make her feel deeply fearful and insecure to know that she is responsible for her parent's confidence and feelings of self-worth. The more stable and confident a parent is, the more stable and confident a child will be." Learning to face and survive disappointment, and knowing that you can come back from that and continue on, is just as much a part of building long-term confidence as achieving success is. Dr. Rathe says it can be easy for a child to become over-confident, which can make failing even more devastating. "I think it's important to teach kids to always have a backup plan," says Dr. Rathe. "I mean, it's great to have confidence, but as we adults all know, sometimes things simply don't go the way we want them to. "Ultimately we want to raise children who can take care of themselves and be good to others and are going to exist in the community as a participating, empathetic, responsible adult," she adds. • C onfidence is a personality trait that can be hard to define, but you know it when you see it in your child. A confident child can look within himself and feels excited and hopeful about his abilities and what is to come, says Dr. Jeanne Goodman, a child psychiatrist at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. And it's never too early to begin helping your child develop those feelings. THE CHANGING NATURE OF CONFIDENCE Instilling confidence in your children starts when they are very young, as they see that proud glow in your eyes when you watch them as they play and interact. But the nature of a child's confidence should change over time, says Dr. Goodman. At first it comes from relying on you, and then as the child grows, confidence comes from look- ing within and feeling good about himself and his ability to make decisions. In the beginning, much of a child's ongoing confidence comes from consistency—the knowledge that parents are always going to be there as a source of support. It doesn't matter if you can't be there every minute of your child's life as your parents may have been. It's more important for your child to know he or she can trust you to keep your word, say experts. "At the end of the day, your child needs to know that you will do what you say and be there when you say you're going to be there," says Dr. Laura Rathe, an internal medicine specialist affiliated with Cuyuna Regional Medi- cal Center in Crosby, Minn. "They will learn a lot from seeing what you do and how you act. Much of being a good parent is just showing up when you're supposed to." A TWO-WAY STREET As children get older, says Dr. Timothy Snyder, a pediatrician with Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health in West Lafayette, Ind., you can turn confidence building into a cooperative exercise, rather than just you reacting to a child's actions. "An older child is better able to discuss and think through things they want to do and explore," says Dr. Snyder. "The parent can then be the sounding board to help them decide if that may be something that they would do well in, or be interested in —just helping to stimulate their thought processes." But while you want to encourage your children in their pursuits, you don't want to invest too much of your own emotions in their success. "Sometimes as a parent we want to live through our 4 ways to help build confdence

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