The goal of parenting is to raise competent and self-reliant adults. You may be shocked because parents often think about raising “their” children. In reality, you’re raising someone’s future spouse, someone’s prospective employee, and someone’s future parent. For your future adult to be successful, things like communication, conflict management, and interpersonal skills are necessary. Additionally, being self-aware and confident is vital. 

For your child to have confidence, it’s important for them to appreciate or value their own ability to complete a task. They build confidence by doing something or even attempting to do something they have never done before, not by just your words complimenting their ability. 

So how do I help develop a confident child? What are the ways to help my child be more confident?

Here are 5 ways to help your child be more confident.

1. Teach them to learn new skills.

To build confidence, your child has to learn new skills. We have to actually teach them the skills. You can’t make the assumption they can or will learn by you telling them. I remember several times being frustrated with my son when I asked him to clean his room. Of course, we differed on what “clean” meant. At the point of frustration, I thought about how I wanted him to learn how to clean his room, so we used this process. 

  • I do. You watch. Modeling.    
  • We do it together. Collaboration.    
  • You do. I watch. Oversight. 
  • You do it and make it your own. Confidence!   

The goal of this process is for your child to develop their skills over time. This is not an overnight or one-day process. You have to be fine that it takes as long as it takes. You have to “get over” the fact they don’t do it exactly as you would. You’ve provided your child with a process to acquire new skills that will benefit their future. It’s about their self-confidence. Get over that it doesn’t have to look exactly like yours.

2. Help them find their interests.

Give your child opportunities to try a variety of activities (not all are at the same time of course). Encourage your child to participate in academic, athletic, and artistic activities to find what they enjoy most. Once they find their passion, embrace and encourage their strengths.

3. Effort matters, so don’t quit.

As your child builds confidence, it’s not about perfection. The effort really does matter. Not effort for a participation trophy, but giving the effort to try something new and out of their comfort zone. Discourage quitting as an option because it takes time to learn something new. Your child is developing a growth mindset as well as building their confidence amid struggle.

4. Let them fail.

It’s natural for parents to want their children to succeed at everything they try. Failing doesn’t make your child a failure. You learn more from failure than from success. Encourage them to do hard things and let them fail.

I believe Thomas Edison said it best: “I haven’t failed. I just learned 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” Or I think Albert Einstein said it well: “Failure is success in progress.”

5. Model confidence for them.

You have to remember your child is always watching you. As you embrace new tasks and challenges, you’re providing a model for your child. First, learning never ends. Also, you get to show your child how you learn and continue to build your own confidence. 

7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders. 

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How To Raise A Resilient Child

Raising a confident child is raising a future adult who will be the best version of themselves. They recognize that confidence is not just something they can have in the activities they attempt, but it is who they are as a person. Confidence leads to more confidence—even confidence even in things your child is unfamiliar with. Confidence leads to competence.

Marvin Marinovich thought he knew how you pass down your values to your kids. 

He may have tried harder than any parent in history

Recognized as a training guru in the 1960s, he became the NFL’s first strength and conditioning coach. He opened an athletic training research center and pioneered training methods still in use over fifty years later. If you’ve ever done “core” training, you have Marinovich to thank. He invented it. Impressive resumé.

His parenting resumé? Not so much.

On July 4, 1969, Marvin became the father of Todd Marinovich. Long before Baby Marinovich was born, dad determined that his son would be the greatest quarterback of all time. “The question I asked myself was, ‘How well could a kid develop if you provided him with the perfect environment?‘” This obsession made Todd less a son and more a lab experiment.

Training Todd began before he was born. (Really.) It continued from crib to college, earning Todd the nicknames “Robo QB” and “Test-Tube Athlete.” His entire upbringing revolved around being a quarterback. 

  • Dietary restrictions before he was born. 
  • Daily training before he could walk. 
  • A team of football tutors was soon in place. 

Sports Illustrated ran a story titled “Bred To Be A Superstar.”

✱ Todd Marinovich’s unremarkable eight-game NFL career ended abruptly after a series of interceptions and failed drug tests.

Passing down your family values is a tricky business

Many parents dream of their children being doctors, lawyers, or taking over the family business. Some dream of Johnny being a scholar, an athlete, a world-class cellist, or graduate from their alma mater. But what about their kid’s dreams? What about the values and character qualities parents want to instill in their children? How do parents pull that off? (One way that Marvin Marinovich was successful was demonstrating that our kids can’t be programmed.) 

How do you go from desiring values to developing them?

Whether you realize it or not, you’re already doing it. As the saying goes, “More is caught than taught.” The life you live in front of your children is the best tool you have as parents for passing down values. Ask yourself, “What did I pass down today?” If we could rewind today and watch it, what would be today’s life lessons?

Kids are sensory sponges. They see and hear everything and soak it all up. Your kids watch where you put your energy, efforts, and resources. They pick up on your attitude. They hear how you talk to people. Your children watch dutifully to see how you fulfill your duties as spouse and parent. It’s not a question of “if” you are passing down your values; it’s more a matter of “what” values you are passing down.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect parent.

Trudi Marinovich, a collegiate swimmer, and athlete in her own right, was also an art lover. She exposed her son Todd to jazz and classical music, art-house movies, and regularly took him with her to art museums. She simply lived her love of art.

Despite Trudi and Marvin’s divorce when Todd was a teen, her influence on Todd was indelible. Although Marvin only had football aspirations for his son and tried to program him from before birth to be a quarterback, Todd surprisingly chose a Fine Arts major when he enrolled at USC—not a major you would expect for the NFL’s “next big thing.”

Todd Marinovich made ESPN’s list of “Top 25 Sports Flops.” Marvin Marinovich was listed #2 on ESPN’s “Worst Sports Parents In History.” Trudi (now Trudi Benti) is reduced to a footnote in stories about Todd, but which parent successfully passed down their values?

Today, Todd paints. 

And plays bass guitar, loves concerts, and runs an online art gallery. 

Listen, there is no formula. There are no guarantees. But there is the life you live in front of your kids. You may not be passing down the values you think you are, but you can be sure your example speaks volumes. Forcing your dreams onto your kids may backfire. Live out your values and passions. Leave room for them to dream their own dreams as you love and support them.

“NO!” Do you remember how you felt the first time your child dead-eyed defied you? As a parent of very strong-willed sons, I remember the first time my oldest said, “NO!” when I asked him to pick up his toys in the living room. I was so taken aback I said to myself, “I must have misheard him.” I repeated, “Please pick up your toys.” He matter-of-factly repeated, “NO.” 

As a parent, I had just entered the Wild West. Gone was my compliant, sweet child. He was replaced with this toddler-gunslinger who shot down everything I said. 

How do I make sure I keep my sheriff’s badge during a power struggle with my child?

Remember, you are in charge.

As a parent, you have the authority in your home. You wear the badge. Remember, you also have the life experience and emotional control that your child doesn’t have. Engaging in a “power struggle” with a child gives the power to the one who can least handle it. To remain in charge, you have to keep your cool. Take a few deep breaths and relax that trigger finger. 

No one knows how to push your buttons like your child. It may feel like they are trying to wrestle control from you. (And they are.) But they are also trying to become their own little person. This is an ongoing and sometimes painfully frustrating process, but keep in mind, you are laying the foundation for those tween and teen years when the stakes are much higher. 

Choose your battles wisely.

Everything is not a big deal. Stop. Say that with me. Everything is not a big deal. Keeping your child safe and healthy as they grow is the priority. Worrying that their clothes are not color-coordinated is just wasted worry. A friend of mine created stickers that said, “She dressed herself.” She placed them on her child’s back so she wouldn’t feel judged as a terrible parent whose child didn’t have on a matching outfit. (But why are we even worrying about what other parents think about us?) Ask yourself, “Is my child safe, healthy, and happy? Then, is this the hill I want to die on?

Give your child choices.

The non-negotiable might be getting dressed, but you can say, “Would you like to wear this outfit or this one?” You just shifted the issue from “getting dressed vs. staying in jammies” to “this outfit vs. this outfit.” Your child gets to exert their little will, but only within the options you gave them. 

As your child grows, they are trying to figure out who they are. Allow them to make age-appropriate choices and decisions. You end up with a win-win situation. Your child feels empowered, and the job gets done with little to no conflict. You’re running this town, but the on-the-job stress is manageable.

Be specific and make it fun!

You have to be specific when giving your child a task. They might not be ready to process, “Clean your room.” Break the job down into smaller tasks. Pick up all your books and place them on your bookshelf and report back to me when you’re done. Make chores a game when you can. Use a hula-hoop and place it on their floor; then grab a kitchen timer. Let’s see how fast you can put away everything in the hoop! Then move the hoop to another section of their floor. Can you beat your last time? You no longer have a power struggle with your child. Instead, you have created a fun game!

Don’t be afraid to deputize the universe.

You read that right. Use natural and logical consequences with your child. Let the universe do the heavy lifting. Consider the following:

Parent: Hey, it’s chilly out. You might want to put a hat on.

Child: No, it’ll mess up my hair. I don’t want to.

Parent: Okay, that’s your choice.

✦ Now, one of two things is gonna happen, but neither involves a power struggle with your child. Either your child will be chilly and will want a hat next time, or your child will be completely comfortable without a cap. Either way, you get to sit back and watch your child interact with the universe and learn a life lesson. You avoided conflict with your child. You were the guide to the side, letting your child learn about choices and consequences while the stakes were small.

This “growing-up” process for your child may feel like a roller coaster for you. The ups, downs, and loopty-loops can take your breath away and stress you out. That badge is a privilege and a responsibility. If you are upset and yelling—you’re losing. As the parent, you are the law in these here parts.

Adults are working from home. Students are learning from home. We’re Zooming and following IG stories to keep up with our friends and family. We have become more reliant on technology to earn a living, get an education, and stay connected to loved ones than ever before. 

Even in the midst of our dependence on WiFi, apps, smartphones, and social media, we look around at our family from time to time and say, “We’re texting each other from the next room. If we don’t get control of all this screen time, our family isn’t going to know each other.”

There are studies linking technology to mental health problems like loneliness, anxiety, and depression. People are suffering from issues such as video game addictions. Divorce filings are citing inappropriate online behavior as factors leading to marital collapse. 

Technology is often dictating how we spend our time instead of the other way around. As parents, part of wrestling control away from the screens working on releasing as many dopamine squirts in your brain to get you hooked means setting boundaries with your family.

Here are eight tips for setting boundaries in your family so technology can increase family togetherness and not cause a disconnect.

Set boundaries so technology serves a positive purpose in your family.

Technology can educate, connect, and entertain us in healthy ways. Boundaries help ensure that technology doesn’t take away from any of those positive things. Make sure a screen is never the only source for educating, connecting, and entertaining.

Be a good role model.

Boundaries can’t be one-sided. “Do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t work. Yes, there are some perks to being an adult; being a technology-distracted parent isn’t one of them. Telling your kids not to bring phones to the dinner table while you sit at the dinner table and text is not a good plan. As a leader in your home, you must first lead by example

Protect your family.

Setting technology boundaries helps protect your family’s connection, safety, and both mental and physical health. Whether it’s cyberbullying or anxiety, establishing boundaries can work to safeguard your family’s wellbeing.

Make a plan.

Create a family technology plan which includes the purpose, boundaries, and consequences. Enforce consequences unapologetically. This can be as simple as taking away their game controllers or reducing their allotted tech-time.

Incentivize technological responsibility.

Encourage your family to make good decisions through rewards that are meaningful. Trips to the ice cream shop, extra tech-time on the weekend, choosing the movie on family movie night—anything that brings attention to good decision-making regarding technology usage reinforces the behavior you want to see. 

Designate tech-free time.

When possible, replace tech-time with family time. Make space for family movies, game nights, and family meals. Setting aside time before bedtime, when devices are off, will help the family connect and increase everyone’s chances of getting a good night’s sleep.

Don’t compare.

Focus on what’s best for your family. Don’t compare yourself to other families. No two homes are alike. It’s one thing to seek advice from other families, but keep your family values front and center.

Educate your family.

Invite your children to learn what you’re learning about the pros and cons of technology. Our family has watched documentaries, television specials and read information together. Being informed has helped our family understand the potential effects of technology on our mental health, relationships, and even our brains. This helps us hold each other accountable and helps us stay focused on the most important thing—our relationships.

Boundaries don’t have to be restrictive. Good boundaries will help your family enjoy relationships with each other by protecting you from potential distractions. Setting boundaries in your family is your way of putting technology in its place. Gadgets are not more important than your relationships with the people you love. Messing with those relationships is a boundary that you can’t give technology the freedom to cross.

Do you remember your first trip home from college? My mother picked me up from the airport and immediately took me to my favorite hometown restaurant. When we got home, we sat in the kitchen and talked for hours about my time away at school. 

She was curious and asked about the new things I experienced and wanted to know all about my new friends. It was a special time I will never forget because she made me feel heard, loved, valued, and was genuinely interested in my life at school. With my son, I wanted to recreate what my mom did for me. Of course, it didn’t go as planned. Instead of downloading with me, he wanted to spend time with his friends. During winter break, I was determined to recreate this moment for us. 

You may be feeling anxious and excited to see your college student. This may be their first time home since you took them to college. It would help everyone in the family to consider how things have changed in that time. Your college student has experienced some new independence while the family at home has created a new “normal.” 

Here a few things to think about for your college student’s extended break at home:

Make Your Home A Haven.

Because your student has traveled some uncharted waters on a college campus during this pandemic, allow them time to decompress and de-stress. They have experienced stress and anxiety related to COVID restrictions and precautions. Have their favorite snacks at home. Cook or have their favorite meal. Host a socially-distanced gathering for them with their closest friends. 

Spend Time With Your College Student.

Go to your favorite restaurant or coffee shop and have conversations with your college student about their time at school (friends, activities, etc.). It tells them you’re interested in their life and want to know what’s going on with them. Ask them about how COVID impacted campus life. You may also want to talk about your expectations for them while they’re home. 

Remember, They’re Not In High School Anymore.

It will be very understandable to revert to treating your college student exactly the way you did while they were in high school. But they have lived “on their own” for the past few months. Respect is essential, and it goes both ways. They need to respect the rules and expectations you set for them while at home. As parents, respecting them as an emerging adult shows you recognize how they handled life at school and are maturing.

Set Clear Expectations.

It’s important to be clear about your expectations for when your student is at home. 

Is curfew the same? 

Use of the car? 

How will they help around the house? Cook, clean, drive siblings? 

Another key to communicate with your student is the example and impact they have on younger siblings while they’re home. Remind them to be a good big brother or sister.

Encourage Them To Find Constructive Things To Do.

Those first few days may be filled with lots of R & R for your student, which is normal. They need to recover from the stress they experienced at school. However, only sleeping, hanging out, or gaming the entire break is not an option. Many businesses are looking for workers during the holiday season. Finding places where they can volunteer during the holiday season can benefit a great organization and your student, too.

By creating a plan, you decrease the likelihood of misunderstanding, disappointment, and miscommunication. It allows everyone in the family to enjoy the extended break you have with your college student at home. Time isn’t a commodity simply to be spent; it is to be invested.

A Parent’s Guide To Mental Health For College Students During COVID-19

4 Tips for Handling the College-to-Home Transition

★ Do you have a tip to make the transition from college to home easier for the whole family? Leave it in the comments below!

Honey, the test was positive.” When you find out you’re about to be a dad, the lack of experience can strike fear into even the most confident man. There are a few things I’ve learned after playing a part in bringing seven kids into this world that would’ve been helpful to know on the front end. [You read that right. Seven.]

Things I wish I’d known before I became a dad…

1. I didn’t have to be a hero for my kid to think I am a hero.

Your kids think you’re great, not because you’re the biggest, strongest, smartest, most powerful person in the world. They just think you are. You’re their hero because you’re Dad. You don’t have to become a great musician, make a lot of money, or be able to show them amazing tricks. Being the person who spends time with them, provides, and takes care of them cements your hero status in their eyes.

2. My words carried more weight than a giant boulder damming up a mountain stream.

Your words will build up or tear down your child. Even babies respond to their parents’ voices. Talking and reading to them as infants, teaching them as toddlers, and affirming them as adolescents—your words make an impact. The more “I love you’s,I’m proud of you’s,” and “I’m thankful to be your dad” they hear, the more validated they’ll feel.

3. I didn’t have to know how to be a good dad before I became one.

Being a good dad is definitely something that can happen through on the job training. Even if your dad wasn’t around for you, you’re still able to be a good dad to your child. Changing diapers, building Legos, and listening to your daughter talk about her day are all skills that can be learned once your child is born. While good examples help (and every dad should seek out other dads they can talk to and get advice from), previous experience is not a requirement for you to fill the position of a good dad. 

4. My kids would be giant sponges.

They watch you and they listen to you. They absorb what they see and hear. Then they follow your lead. If you fuss a lot, then they’ll fuss a lot when they’re playing with their toys. If you’re gentle, they’ll be gentle. “Do as I say and not as I do,” doesn’t work with your little ones. If you want to raise a future adult who respects others and has good relationships, be that adult

5. Tapping into my inner child can make it easier for my kids to respect my authority.

Dads have a reputation for being playful, silly, and adventurous. There’s an essential place for this in fatherhood. It gives you parenting cred with your kids. When your kids know you like them and enjoy being around them, it will be easier for your child to respect and obey you.

Whether you knew it or not, you have everything you need to be a good dad. Be present. Pay attention to your child. Don’t let fear of failure prevent you from diving in. On the job training will help you learn everything you need to know about being a dad. And your biggest influence will also be your biggest fan—your child.

So you’re a new dad. Congrats!! This is an exciting time. Did you get your how-to manual full of explanations and instructions? You didn’t? Hmmm, wonder what happened there? Oh wait, that doesn’t exist. If only kids came with instruction manuals. (Even if they did, would you even read it? I probably wouldn’t. Maybe that’s why the shelves I put up are crooked…)

So here you are asking the questions: What do I do now? What do I need to know? All valid questions. (We don’t want our kids to end up like those shelves!)

It’s ok, Dad—I got you! Here are some first-time dad tips as you begin this journey.

You don’t have to know everything.

It’s ok to not know everything. (Here’s a little secret, Mom doesn’t either.) Parenting is all about learning; each day brings new challenges, new adventures, new lessons. You have a partner in this so walk the road together. Embrace the journey and give yourself (and mom) lots of grace because neither of you knows it all.

Kids come in different models.

All children are different. All deliveries are different. Your experience won’t look like mine or your buddy’s, and that’s ok. Embrace this time, ask lots of questions, seek counsel from dads who have newborns. (I highly recommend talking to those dads; dads who have been in the game for a while may have forgotten those first weeks and months… sleepless nights are a real thing.)

Be present.

You’re not going to know everything it takes to be a dad, but one of the most important aspects is to be present and involved. Take every opportunity to hold your newborn, swaddle, feed, talk, and read to them. This all strengthens the bond between you. (And Mom will be impressed!)

Diaper duty… you got this.

The first time I changed a diaper was the day my son was born. My philosophy was that if a kid was gonna pee on me, it’d better be one I helped create. Change lots of diapers! Changing diapers is a dirty business (often literally) but it’s nothing to fear and creates an awesome opportunity to bond with your newborn. Talk to your baby and make goofy faces at them while changing their diaper.

Feeding time… you have a role, too!

Be part of feedings. If mom is breastfeeding, you’re on diaper duty… there are those diapers again. Our routine for nighttime feedings was my wife fed and I changed the diaper. We’d alternate rocking our son for a bit. Here’s a Hero Tip: If you’re bottle-feeding, own those night feedings. This is as much about mom as the baby. She will love the time to rest. Hero Status: Unlocked.

Babies are gonna cry… that doesn’t mean you should!

Babies cry and that’s ok. What you’ll learn is that they have different cries for different reasons. You will get to know these. Make mental notes as to what sounds mean what.

Newborns are great to watch sports with.

Make your newborn part of what you love to do. My son watched tons of baseball and Moto GP races when he was little. We also took him to car shows, baseball games, and boat races. He doesn’t remember, but I can show him he was included in what I loved.

Dad jokes… everyone else is welcome.

You are a dad now, so you have a responsibility to share dad jokes every opportunity you can. Brush up on those skills, watch some YouTube videos, and be prepared for lots of eye rolls.

You’ve got this, Dad. You’ll have lots of questions and you will learn a lot in the coming weeks and months. That’s ok—fatherhood is a journey… embrace it.

For more information and tips for a first-time dad (and mom), check out our class, Oh, Baby! Online.

I was sitting at my middle school son’s football game. Some parents around me were discussing who was dating who in the school. I kept quiet during the conversation, but was anxiously waiting for them to mention my son. They did. I was astonished and a little embarrassed because I was totally unaware my son was “dating.” I knew for a fact he didn’t go anywhere with anyone. That’s what I consider “dating.” All he did was talk on his phone. 

How does that constitute dating? 

As soon as we left the game, I must confess I blindsided him with the question, “How is your girlfriend?” [Mom Smirk.] He gave me one of those looks only a teenager could give. “Mom, I don’t have a girlfriend.” [Teen Eye Roll.] “That’s not what I heard.” The more we went back and forth, the more frustrated he became, and the angrier I became. He was ADAMANT  he didn’t have a girlfriend. Truth be told, I was confused. I soon recognized that not believing him was damaging our relationship

How could I have prevented this from happening? 

Could I have better engaged my son in a conversation about his “romantic relationship?”

How can my misstep help you?

⇨ Related: 6 Tips for Teaching Your Teen Healthy Dating Habits

Learn The Language

This is a time when the teacher becomes the student. Be humble and allow your teen to teach you the new relationship lingo. Your willingness to learn and listen shows you respect your teen’s perspective and you care about what’s going on in their world. 

Recognize and Accept Things Have Changed

When your teen says things have changed, believe them. The words and labels they use—DIFFERENT. The modes of communication they use—DIFFERENT. The definition of relationships—DIFFERENT. Trying to impose the “old way” on them will be met with rolled eyes, resistance, or worse. 

Be An Askable Parent When You Talk to Your Teen About Romantic Relationships

Take time to listen. Be open and genuine. You might hear some “stuff” that shocks or surprises you. You have to use your poker face. You’ll be tempted to turn a conversation into an interrogation. If your teen perceives a negative reaction from you or gets bombarded with a billion questions or a long lecture, it can cause them to stop talking and create distance.

⇨ Related: How Do I Get My Teen To Talk To Me?

Build Up Your Relationship

Cultivating and maintaining your relationship with your teen provides space for this conversation. As your teen grows, your relationship with them should grow from more directive to coaching them through life and relationships. The more you try to control or force a relationship with your teen, the more they can pull away from you. 

If your teen says they are in a romantic relationship, here are some conversation starters to ask your teen:

  1. Are you able to be yourself in the relationship?
  2. Do you show respect and feel respected in your relationship?
  3. Do you have realistic expectations about the relationship?
  4. Are you feeling pressured in your relationship?
  5. Do you feel you have the time to devote to the relationship?

The key to guiding your teen through romantic relationships is to stop being a talkative parent and become a parent your teen wants to talk to. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your teen builds and supports the relationship

Sure, “dating” might look different now, but there is still no substitute for a close, healthy relationship with your teen.

Check out some other blogs on healthy dating habits here: