All kids are special and have different interests and strengths, but two qualities all kids can have no matter their likes and dislikes are confidence and respectfulness. Raising a kid who displays both represents the gold standard of parenting. But kids typically won't become confident and respectful all by themselves or wake up one day to magically become that way. You play a big role in developing those qualities in your child.
Raising a Confident Child
Notice when your child accomplishes a task. Say your little boy is learning to throw a baseball with his dad. His first attempts fall short, but your son keeps trying. Finally, he's successful and throws a good ball far enough to reach its target. Accomplishing the task builds your son's confidence on its own, but you can increase the confidence level by telling him you noticed the good throw and were impressed by how committed he was to practicing and not giving up too fast.
Trust your young child to complete a task without your help, even one as simple as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If your child is too young to use a knife, show her how to spread using the back of a spoon. It will build her confidence to let her make the sandwich without your help. After she's made a meal she can now eat, she will tell herself, "I am capable," writes Maureen Healy, author of "Growing Happy Kids," in an article on "Raising a Confident Child" on PsychologyToday.com.
Be confident yourself. Notice how you conduct yourself when you are out with your child. If you are shopping, for example, and the salesperson rings up the wrong amount at the register, be confident when you politely point out the mistake.
Raising a Respectful Child
Be respectful yourself. If you treat others, including your child, with respect, you teach your child how to behave. Saying "please" and "thank you" sets a good example for your child.
Teach respect for others' feelings by asking your child to put herself in someone else's place. Maybe one student in your child's class is made fun of for not running as fast as the other kids during play because she's overweight. Ask your daughter to put herself in the girl's place and to imagine how her classmate must feel. Instead of teasing, your daughter might want to befriend the girl instead.
Set rules in your home. Children need to respect rules and obey limits. Your rules could be that your child needs to be in bed by a certain time, cannot have a snack later than 4 p.m., or is expected to clear the table after dinner. Rules help impose order and teach children there are other considerations in life beyond their own wants and needs, writes education consultant Rifka Schonfeld in the article "Mind Your Manners: Raising a Respectful and Considerate Child" on the Jewish Press website. When there are no rules, kids can grow up to be selfish and egocentric.
Don't overpraise your child by telling him he's the best baseball thrower in the world or the smartest kid in the class, recommends research psychologist Peggy Drexler in the article "The Key to Raising Confident Kids? Stop Complimenting Them!" on PsychologyToday.com. Confidence comes from real achievements, not from parents inflating or overblowing small or normal feats.