Confidence is displayed in a child's posture.

How to Raise Your Kids to Be Confident and Respectful

by Melissa McNamara

Your chosen parenting style influences the type of children you'll raise. Providing reasonable expectations in a democratic rule-based household improves the chance of your child having high self-esteem. It also encourages respectful behaviors based on your child's inner feelings of guilt for wrongdoing and not from fear of punishment.

Model appropriate behaviors for your children. Children copy their parent's behaviors, so if you're raising your voice, using profanity and name-calling, and regularly ignoring your own manners, you can't expect much more from your child. Children often learn more from your actions than your words.

Acknowledge your children's positive behaviors. If your teenage son says, “thank you” to a waitress, smile at him. If your toddler says “please” when asking for a glass of milk, tell your toddler “I really like the way you asked for your milk.” Do not excessively praise children for expected behaviors since this removes the internal satisfaction of doing something good from your your child and results in the child trying to please you as opposed to doing the right thing because it's the appropriate thing to do.

Discuss rules and discipline with your children. Allow your children to object to rules and hear what they have to say. Rule-setting can be negotiable and there are times you can be flexible with your children. Once a rule has been set, such as no using the phone until homework is finished, explain what happens if the rule is broken, such as the cell phone is taken away for two days. Stay firm and consistent once rules are established because that helps teach children to respect rules.

Allow child to express angry thoughts, but limit expressiveness. If your child is raising his voice, use guidance to improve behavior by saying things such as “it's OK to be mad, but I'm not going to listen until you change your tone.” Treat an angry child the same way you would want to be treated. The issue your child is angry about might seem silly, but it's important to realize you were your child's age at one time. Never tell your child an issue bothering them is stupid or unimportant.

Promote a positive body image. Children learn to be aware of their weight at an early age and poor body image can hurt their confidence. Provide nutritious foods and promote exercise within your household. Avoid statements and labels such as “chubby belly” or even “scrawny leg” because they can have negative effects on your child.


  • Show some flexibility. Demonstrations of flexibility encourage a child's ability to compromise.
  • If you have a young shy child, don't force him to talk. Instead, model the behavior, such as say please and thank you for him without calling attention to the issue.


  • Authority-driven parents that offer little explanation for rules and little involvement of the child in decision-making tend to raise shy, self-conscious, docile and submissive children.
  • Avoid unrealistic expectations or comparing your child to someone else's child. Never withdrawal love as a form of punishment.


  • "Wong's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing;" Marilyn J. Hockenberry and David Wilson
  • "The Parenting Bible: The Answers to Parents' Most Common Questions;" Robin Goldstein, PhD

About the Author

Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

Photo Credits

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