- Not believing in yourself as a parent may result in a greater likelihood of resorting to ineffective parenting practices.
- Make a list of everything you do “right” as a parent and avoid comparing yourself to others to increase your parenting confidence.
- Remind yourself every day that you are the expert on your child and the best parent for your child.
Researchers conducted an experiment in which they observed parents and children together and then, regardless of what they observed, told parents that, based on their observation, their child was healthy and well-adjusted and that they were a very effective parent (specifically, scoring in the top 20 percent of parents). This one instance of positive feedback had an immediate and positive impact on both the child’s and the parent’s behavior. Specifically, the mothers who were given this positive feedback showed enhanced emotional responsiveness, more positive emotions in the interaction with the child, less irritability with the child, and more support to the child. In other words, just believing in your ability as a parent results in better parenting.
Interestingly, the children whose parents were given the positive feedback also showed more positive emotions (smiled and laughed more) in the interaction, less irritability, and greater enthusiasm and persistence in play. These findings are particularly surprising since the researchers did not say anything to the children themselves. This suggests that having more confidence in your ability to parent also has a positive impact on your child.
Research also finds that not believing in yourself as a parent may result in a greater likelihood of resorting to ineffective parenting practices, such as using manipulation to try to control your child and using harsh punishments.
So, since you likely don’t have researchers available to regularly remind you that you are an effective parent, how exactly do you increase your confidence as a parent?
- Make a list of everything you do “right” as a parent (such as telling your child you love them, remembering to make pediatrician appointments, listening to them when they are upset, reading them books most nights, etc.).
- Tell yourself every day that you are the expert on your child and the best parent for your child. Remind yourself that no one else understands your child’s individual needs as well as you do. Your child doesn’t need a perfect parent; they only need you.
- Avoid comparing yourself to other parents (particularly through the “highlight reel” that is social media). Remember that all parents struggle and make mistakes. Parenting is universally difficult.
- Ask family and friends to help you by identifying some of your strengths as a parent. If you have a co-parenting partner, discuss a plan for providing each other with this type of positive feedback regularly.
- If you feel guilty about not being a “good enough” parent or are beating yourself up for a parenting mistake that you made, imagine what you would tell a friend if they were in the same situation. Now give yourself the same grace that you would give a friend.