1. Resources
  2. /
  3. Discussion Lounge
  4. /
  5. Kids health & safety

Building Character Through Confidence

Melissa Roja Lawlor
Aug. 7, 2012

One mom shares her reality-based approach to building confidence in her kids as part of the Care.com Interview Series.

At an early age, blogger Lisa Lightner found an inner confidence in an unexpected place: from learning to take care of herself. As a parent to two boys, including one with special needs, she knows that confident kids are made, not born. Lightner, whose blog, A Day In Our Shoes, serves as a support resource for parents of children with special needs, takes a moment to share with us her philosophy on building confidence, why it isn't enough just to talk the talk, and why the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality should take a backseat to reality.

Tell us about your family.

I am married to my college sweetheart. We have two boys ages 3 and 5, and the five-year-old has special needs. I also work PT as a Special Education Advocate, and kids with special needs have about a 99% chance of being bullied in their lifetime-so this is an issue I am passionate about and is very close to home for us.

Do you consider yourself a confident woman? If so, what and who helped you get there?

Absolutely! I don't want to get into a whole sob story, but I didn't have the greatest childhood and learned very early on that I had to take care of myself, that no one else was going to (except my grandmother). But I gained confidence in learning I could take care of myself, and learned my hard work ethic from my grandmother.

Do you or any of your kids struggle with a lack of self-confidence? How have you handled that?

My five-year-old is intellectually disabled and as a result, doesn't have a strong sense of self-not enough to even know he should be confident. I am watching my three-year-old struggle a bit-as he watches his brother do things in public that are not socially appropriate, I can tell that even at this early age that it makes him uncomfortable and that he is going to at times be embarrassed by his brother's behavior. That makes me sad, but hopefully he will learn that people are people, and everyone has value.

How do you express the value of confidence to your kids?

First, I don't congratulate them on every little thing. Some things in life we are just expected to accomplish-appropriate to that person's abilities. But I think we've gone too far in the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Winning is fun, losing isn't, but life isn't always about winning either. I try to boost their self-esteem while being realistic, as age and ability appropriate. For my three-year-old, I tell him I like when he does certain things (like sharing), which is different from congratulating. I wish I had been brought up in a household where we were taught that everyone in society has value. My parents/stepparents said the right things, but actions speak louder than words-they didn't always do the right thing. I try my hardest to walk the walk.... and hopefully my advocacy for those with special needs is teaching my kids a valuable lesson.

How might you (some day) use social media to increase your child's self-esteem?

Like anything else, social media can be a hobby or activity that increases or decreases anyone's self-esteem, not just children. I only participate in family friendly online activities, and my kids love to sit on my lap and go through the photos that everyone posts online. I also tell them how I post certain things because that moment just made me so happy or so proud that I wanted to share it. As they get older, they will learn that I only use social media to promote a cause or give people tips and all for good.

What's the ONE thing you want your kids to feel/remind themselves/know when they walk out the door in the morning? What words do you want them to remember to boost their confidence?

Everyone has value, and everyone is equal.

Lisa Lightner is a "hopelessly suburban" work-at-home mom to two boys, including one with special needs. She works part-time as a Special Education Advocate and also authors a blog called Smart Spending Spot. You can find Lightner on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Find more messages of confidence in our Care.com Interview Series: You Count ยป

Photo used with permission from Lisa Lightner.
Leave a comment

Create a free account with Care.com and join our community today.

Related content

How much should you pay for a babysitter?