He was so sure he could ride it by himself that he never thought it would be too hard for him.
Parker, my third-born, loves motorcycles. He started riding his own dirt bike, to his dad’s great pride, at the age of three. He was so sure that he could ride it by himself that he never thought it would be too hard for him. The first time he got on it he took off and rode like he had been doing it forever. He is a follower by nature, but as I watched him out in the field, riding for the first time, I noticed he did not follow his daddy around, who was riding his own dirt bike. Parker went his own way, confidently maneuvering his way over the cow patties and the tall grass, sure of himself. I realized that we had instilled that confidence in him. Though Justin encouraged Parker to follow him, with great enthusiasm he kept changing course and going down his own imaginary path. He fell over right before we quit, but jumped up and got right back on, never making a whimper. He was excited at his accomplishment.
Do not push them to the point that they are afraid.
A few weeks later he wanted to go out again; but this time, as he began to ride, he was a little shaky and kept stopping. After just a few minutes he wanted to quit. He lacked confidence, for some reason. We did not push him to continue riding, but praised him for what he did, and let it go at that. I knew that this was just a matter of confidence and it was best to build it up again before going back out on the bike again. Building confidence in your laid-back, steady child is an everyday job—to let them accomplish something, to overcome, and to be victorious!
Where should you start?
- Remember, a steady child is also a follower, so if you are happy with them they are happy with themselves. If you are sad, disappointed, or angry your steady child will be, too. You are leading and guiding them in becoming the person they will be. If you are a crank, they will be as well. It is up to you to break the cycle of unhappiness!
- When Parker was just a baby he knew that he was part of this family—that he was needed. I always gave him little jobs to do; helping Mom load the washer, washing dishes, or bringing in wood; he was a part of it all. I praised him continually and let him know that he was valued.
- I did not pamper him or treat him like a baby, but treated him like a little man. I knew that he was already sweet and kind, so I did not need to work on those things, but rather on his other weaknesses. He spent hours with his daddy, learning to be a tough little man. If he fell down, we did not coddle him, but helped him up and encouraged him to “keep trucking.”
- A confident child is not afraid to talk to others or to step out of his comfort zone. While your children are still young, give them the opportunity to reach out to others. When we go shopping, I let my children hand the money to the cashier, or I have them make their own purchases so they can figure out how much it will cost. Let your kids hand out tracts and tell people that Jesus loves them. One day your children are going to be young adults and they will have to function on their own; give them the confidence now to do that. I have my children all stand up and sing specials at church, from the 9-year-old down to the 18-month-old. Parker, my steady, is not excited about it like Gracie, his go-to-sister; but because he is a follower, he will get up in front of a crowd and sing with his sister. I am putting him in the position now, while he is still young, where he feels safe in front of a crowd. He is up there with his sister, with mom smiling and looking on. He will one day have the courage to stand before a crowd and lead them, if God asks him to do that.
- Don’t let your children be shy; help them overcome their fears and reach out to others. Observe your children and determine what is causing them to be shy. Is it only when someone talks to them, or is it all the time? Then, create an environment where you are in control and can train them to be confident. Do not push them to the point that they are afraid. Remember, you are training them, guiding them, and directing them. Talk to them about how to respond when someone speaks to them, how to stand, and what to say. Praise them for their accomplishment and let them practice in front of Daddy or Grandma; then arrange for them to practice with a friend, still in your own home in a safe environment. Then, when you feel they are ready, have them go to a friend’s house to practice their boldness. When they are ready, bring them out to confront strangers in stores or at church. This is especially for very shy children, but is good for any child.
- When I was a child, we had weekly practice speaking in front of the entire family. We had to keep our heads up, maintain eye contact, and project our voices with confidence. We learned to read the Bible looking out over the room and letting our voices carry to the family. I am not a natural speaker or leader; yet, because of my early training, I can stand before crowds and speak. Dad did not know when I was five years old that I would speak publicly as an adult; but he gave me the tools that I would need to do what God has called me to do today. Learning to stand and speak confidently at the age of five gave me the confidence I now have as an adult.
Learning to stand and speak confidently at the age of five gave me the confidence I now have as an adult.
As I look back and see the confidence that my parents instilled in me and how it has given me the tools I need today, it gives me even more motivation to instill that same confidence in each of my children. When I see Parker riding confidently out on his bike, I know he is well on his way to becoming a confident man.