Dr Harvey Karp

Dr Harvey Karp

Toddlers lose all day long! They’re weaker, slower, shorter, less verbal, and clumsier than almost everybody they know. They just want to win a few! You can’t protect your child from all the losses he’ll suffer while he’s growing up. (Nor would you want to… they build character!) But you can help your bub become more confident, so he bounces back from defeats faster. The more your child knows you believe in him, the more he’ll believe in himself. Here are some easy ways to boost your tot’s confidence.

Watch your words

When you’re dealing with a strong-willed toddler it can be tempting to use sweeping statements like “you always whine!” or “you never clean up your toys”. But the truth is, those statements are usually unfair and always untrue. No child is always whining or never helping. Using phrases like that can make your tot feel insulted and even lead to less cooperation. Toss the words “always,” “never,” and “worst” right out of your vocabulary!

Along with exaggerations, there are a few more labels to nix from your vocab. Negative descriptors we assign to youngsters can tear them down. Labels can stick with kids for a long time—so let’s make them positive! When you find yourself wanting to call your toddler bossy or sensitive, take a moment to think about a positive word you can use instead (leader or empathetic, for example).

Listen with respect

When you listen to your child with patience and respect, you send the message that you really value him as a person. One of the best ways to show your tot you’re listening with respect? The Fast-Food Rule.

Play the boob

The basic idea of “playing the boob” is to make your child feel smart/strong/fast/etc. by making yourself seem, well, like a bit of a “boob.” That might mean acting klutzy, confused, forgetful, or like a literal pushover (maybe you get “blown down” with one of their huffs and puffs). See more tips about playing the boob here!

Ask your child for help

Asking your tot for help tells him, I know you can do it. He’ll beam with pride when he shows you how capable he is. For example, say, “Honey, my hands are sooo full, can you please help Mum and carry my bag?”

Offer options

There are so many decisions to make every day; let your child make a few of them. By age 2, your tyke will love being asked to choose: “Which flowers should we buy, the purple or the white?” Asking your child his opinion shows him that you think he’s smart and you have confidence in his choices.

Just don’t offer too many options. Your toddler’s immature brain may get overloaded (two is good!). And never ask your child’s choice if you plan to scrap it. For example, don’t ask them which flowers to buy if you’ve already decided to get the purple ones.

Let them work things out themselves

It might take you five seconds to do something that would take your toddler five (agonizing) minutes, but don’t rush him! Put your hands in your pockets, zip your lips, take some slow, deep breaths, and encourage his efforts. If you can keep yourself from hopping in, your patience and body language will give your little one the message: I trust you to figure out hard things. Let him work at it, even if he gets a little frustrated. Of course, offer some help if he’s really getting upset.