From closeness comes connection.
From connection comes confidence.
And with confidence, anything is possible!
Every parent wants to raise a confident kid. Ok, that moment they run off into nursery without looking back is a tear-jerker, but it’s also so good to know that they will be brave enough to make friends and have fun on their own. So, how can we set them up for this moment and all the other moments like this to come? Many parents worry that if their little one is too dependent on them, they’ll lack confidence, but actually the opposite is true. Children with a strong connection to their parents are often the most confident. Being brave enough to run off into that playground in the first place is usually down to the fact that they know you’ll be there for them at the end of the day. Here are five things you can do to nurture the connection with your mini and boost your child’s confidence and development.
1. It’s all about security
Babies feel more confident to explore the world around them when they know that you are there as a safety net. They need to feel secure before they can build self confidence, so nurturing a strong bond between you from the start is very important. When they take those first few steps, they’ll usually look back at you for reassurance (to make sure you are there to give them a cuddle if they stumble!). Learning to trust that you’ll always be there for them is all about building closeness. You can start to think about this even before they arrive by choosing nursery furniture and baby equipment that helps to foster that connection. For example, look for a pram that enables you to turn your baby towards you. We love the Stokke Xplory stroller as it has multiple seat positions and it’s also height adjustable – so that you can bring your little one right up to your level.
2. Choose level-appropriate activities
Playing together is an important part of building your connection and working on your little one’s confidence. Make sure you choose activities that are at your child’s level though. It’s important to get the balance between a task that is just difficult enough to keep their interest but not so hard that they’ll get frustrated when they can’t do it. Encourage the effort your little one is putting into the task and also let them know what a good job they have done when they complete it successfully. And if they don’t get it the first time? Let them know it’s ok to keep trying – practice really does make perfect.
3. Make it dark
We sleep much better in a dark environment because it allows our bodies to produce melatonin (our sleep hormone). During the summer when it’s light until late it can be hard to get little ones off to sleep, so invest in some blackout blinds for their room. Babies also struggle to tell the difference between night and day, so it can really help to keep your night feeds dark and quiet.
3. Set some routines
Little ones feel much more safe and secure when they know what’s coming next, so routines can have a big impact on their confidence. Knowing that bedtime stories come after bathtime means they can relax and focus on having fun and connecting with you. Making sure they have continuity in their space can have the same effect. For example, you can take the stress out of changes in their sleep routine by choosing a bed that evolves as they grow. The Stokke Sleepi adapts from a crib, to a cot, to a junior bed with the clever extension kit. It has wheels so you can move it from your room into their nursery with ease. And the comfort of being in the same bed as they grow (hopefully!) means that they’ll have the confidence to sleep on their own when the time comes.
4. Respond to their needs
It’s important for your little one to feel like you are listening to them – it makes them feel safe and helps their confidence to grow. For the littlest ones this is all about soothing cuddles when they are crying or in a grizzly mood. As they get older, let them have a little bit of autonomy and give them the power to make some of their own decisions. Allow them to choose the filling in their sandwich, or which book you read together at bedtime. Having some control will make them feel good about themselves and help to make them feel more confident when they start to do things without you.
5. Be a role model
Little ones learn by watching and copying you. They watch for your reactions in every new situation and if they see you being confident, it follows that they will be too. For example, one way to raise a confident eater is to make sure your little one can see you enjoying food and trying new things. Stokke has several high chair options that allow you to seat your baby at the table and involve them in family meal time. The brand has created a newborn adaptor set for their iconic Tripp Trapp, and we also love that you can connect their Steps Bouncer to their Steps High Chair. The Tripp Trapp is a great investment as it’s designed to be your child’s ‘special chair’ that grows with them from birth and can be used right into adulthood. Pull your mini up close and make sure they can see you smiling – it really does all come back to building that connection between you from the start.