We want our children to face the world with courage. We want them to speak honestly and tell us what’s really going on. We want our children to be confident.

But a lot of so-called confidence is all about us. It’s based on how awesome we think we are, and when we don’t feel awesome anymore, that self-confidence crumbles. It’s loud and flashy for a little while, but it doesn’t last. That isn’t the kind of confidence we want for our children.

So how do we help our children grow in real confidence? God teaches us how to raise confident kids.

It is through praying and God’s faithfulness that we can live confident, godly lives ourselves. Our children ask us a lot of questions about life, and our answers begin to frame and prescribe the right lens for their understanding of the world and their place in it.

Our communication to God often times consist of inquiries for guidance. His guidance does help us answer questions and shapes our view of life. But God offers more than guidance. He knows how to sympathize with His children. There is nothing that shows this more clearly than the coming of Jesus, who was the ultimate example of sympathy. God understands us because He has seen life from our perspective.

As we help our children grow in godly confidence, we likewise need to see life from their perspective.  Your child’s vantage point is different from yours, and everything is much larger and far more complex in their eyes. Your child needs something to put their confidence. By loving them well, we can help them put their confidence in the love of their Heavenly Father.

Loyalty Builds Confidence

As a child of God, here is what gives me confidence: the fact that He says, “I am the Lord YOUR God” (Exodus 20:2, emphasis added).

God’s faithfulness and loyalty, displayed in that statement, give me the confidence to enter into a chaotic world. It allows me to trust and even make decisions confident that God will keep His promise of never leaving nor forsaking His people (Joshua 1:5).

I remember playing the trust game with my teammates. It’s when you have to stand with your arms folded across your chest. Meanwhile, your teammates have to extend locked arms together in order to catch you as you fall. As you slowly lean farther and farther back without looking backward, you are trusting that they will catch you. It becomes even more difficult when you are standing on a chair, with a longer way to fall and a greater amount of force for the catchers to withstand. As you fall backward, you start to wonder, “I don’t know if they will catch me. What if they are too weak to hold me up? Do they value me enough to hold me up?”

I believe our children may have these same questions as they enter into the world. Development psychologist Erick Erickson outlined stages of development by which questions children are asking: Will my parents be there for me? Will they demonstrate faithfulness regardless if I fall or fail?

As parents, we need to remind our children that our loyalty does not depend on how well they do in life. When we show our children that we love them no matter what, our children will learn that they are neither defined nor disqualified by their mistakes. That’s what builds up our children’s confidence—knowing that their support systems are committed to them.

Love Builds Confidence

Do you know the hymn “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”? It reminds us that God’s love for us was so immense that He gave the most precious person up for humanity’s sake:

How deep the Father’s love for us

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure

God reached out and began a loving relationship with us. This truth—that we are loved by God—is vital to who we are as human beings. The love of God is what truly gives us eternal assurance and grace-filled confidence.

In raising my son, there are times that I have to reassure him of my love. Whenever he is ashamed, he wants to curl up and hide, because he thinks that I will shame him and disapprove of him. He fears that he may lose the love I have for him. This is clearly an issue with his confidence. What I have to do is tell him how much I love him. I need to remind him that he does not need to be ashamed.

If I were to only focus on disciplining him, he would not see a loving father. Instead, he would see an ungracious judge that demands the right actions. But a love that builds confidence empathizes with him, telling him that I have seen it from his vantage point. My discipline will never be loving if I don’t empathize.

Remember when Adam and Eve were in the garden? After sinning against God, the first thing they do is hide. They were loved by God, and they lived in perfect harmony with Him. However, their sin was a sign that they did not realize how loved they were. They tried to have more confidence within themselves as opposed to God. I believe if we teach our children to trust that they are loved by God and their parents, then they will understand that they are not perfect but are loved. They may not be the best at everything, but they are loved. That’s where real confidence comes from.

Listening Builds Confidence

One of the key teaching tools in my son’s class is the reminder to be “first-time listeners.” This is important because it helps the students slow down and pay attention to directions.

I think it is just as important for the parents to be first-time listeners. To become first-time listeners to our children, we need to create spaces to focus on listening to our children. This space could be at the dinner table, before bedtime, and/or in the morning before school. As we practice listening, we engage the entirety of their emotions: anger, sadness, joy, peace, self-control, anxiety.

Listening will help your children to know that you value them. Our children are excited to know that we intently listen to their voice. As we listen to them, we are also teaching them how God is listening to their hearts and prayers. This means giving them our undivided attention and making them our priority— not answering phone calls or checking a text in the middle of a conversation. Knowing that you listen and that God listens is core to building their confidence.

Being a first-time listener also means listening without getting angry or upset. When we can listen to our children gently—even when they tell us what they did wrong—our children will not be afraid to speak to us. Over time, that gives them the confidence to share anything with us.

Building confidence in our children is freeing for them. We ought to be intentional in our loyalty, with our love, and by the way we listen.