ADVICE: Raising children with confidence, not ego

Parenting has a clear impact in how children see themselves and build confidence. A recent study led by Yale researcher, Dr Eli Lebowitz, has also shown purely parent-based treatment for children and youth with anxiety is equally effective as individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Building confidence among children is something Tameka Anderson is dedicating her career to. In this interview, she outlines why she founded Parenting Confident Kids, and how to identify and address the between ‘confidence’ and ‘ego’ among children.

  • What are the signs of a ‘confident kid’ in comparison to a ‘kid with low confidence’?

A kid with a healthy sense of confidence will be more cooperative, resolve conflict easier, and allow their curiosity to take center stage instead of having a fixed mindset. They will communicate more effectively, use their critical thinking skills as they will allow their abundance of creativity to strengthen their problem-solving skills. They are less likely to complain of boredom as they will most likely be the kid making art and creating things that are entertaining. They are very interesting because they are genuinely interested in others.

Whereas a child with low confidence will be very self-critical and hard on themselves. They usually don’t think they can do anything great and they will say this often. They constantly compare themselves to other children in a way that they feel they can never measure up to them. They are less likely to take risks as they believe they will fail before they even try. They need a lot of reassurance and even then are less likely to take risks. The extreme effect of low confidence is behavioral issues. 

  • Why did you originally start Parenting Confident Kids? 

I started my first summer camp program about six years ago because I saw a lot of summer camp programs where they pretty much had children just in a room and were glorified babysitters.

I wanted to start a camp where I could teach children how to bring out their awesomeness through building confidence. It was funny really because it seemed like the parents who were having the most behavioral challenges with their children brought them to my camp.

And we had FUN!

So my camp grew by leaps and bounds each year because parents were telling their friends about me and I had parents signing up for the next year summer camp before the end of the summer to ensure they had a spot. By my third year operating the camps, I noticed each day I would have a line of parents waiting to speak with me. They wanted to know what I was doing with the children and how I would get them to behave.

One mom said, “Ms. Tameka, I wanna know what you’re doing with these kids because the only way I can get my son to behave is if I threaten that he cannot attend summer camp and he straightens right up.” So once I saw there was a need to help parents learn tips to building confidence, that’s when Parenting Confident Kids was born.

  • What have been the biggest surprises of running the business since it started? 

The biggest surprise of running my business is that I had to learn how to market it.

I was so spoiled by all of the word of mouth marketing I received from the summer camps that I thought once I started the Parenting Confident Kids program that it would basically run itself. Not so. I’ve had to learn some creative ways of marketing my business and I don’t think I was prepared for that so taking business classes and hiring assistants to help me has become part of my process in making it happen.

  • How important is it to factor in concepts like discrimination, racism, privilege, and ego when parenting for confidence? 

When parenting for confidence, there are so many factors that we as parents must understand. Discrimination, racism, privilege, and ego really are all one and the same. The only way you will discriminate against another human is if you are not secure in yourself so you create a win-lose dynamic.

You must ask yourself, “Why does racism exist? What purpose could treating someone poorly serve you?” Only someone who doesn’t have a healthy sense of self will even indulge in the mistreatment of another person based solely on their race. So you mean because someone else looks and behaves differently than you that makes you more superior than them? Why? When you view it this way you can easily see how a weakened ego plays a large part in racism and discrimination.

As it relates to privilege, there are a lot of people who are denying that it even exists. Again, we must refer to the ego. When someone struggles with a healthy sense of self or ego, they seek to protect the damaged ego at all costs. Even if that means to the detriment of another human. When you see people vehemently denying their privilege, you also have to ask, why? What are you protecting when you are denying something that has been proven time and time again? In order to parent for confidence, you must understand that you should keep a healthy balance of ego.

  • What are the challenges to balancing confidence and ego within a child? How can parents overcome these challenges?

Confidence says, “I am no better than you, however, you are no better than me” because it doesn’t compare. Whereas arrogance, or inflated ego, says, “look at me, I am better than you.” True confidence is power and power gives life and energy. The inflated ego is the opposite and forceful. Force takes these away. Power is associated with compassion and makes us feel positive about ourselves. Force is associated with judgmentalism and tends to make us feel bad about ourselves.

So when you are truly building confidence, you will learn the role of ego and that it should never take center stage in any decision. Ego is and should be used as a tool to help you master duality without being affected by it. Parents can continue to help children balance these two by developing a daily practice to strengthen the child’s sense of self.


About the expert

Tameka Anderson is the founder of Parenting Confident Kids and author of the no holds barred book, The Confident Leader.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Tameka’s family structure was not only unconventional, it’s one that not many would survive.

Raised in Chicago’s turbulent foster care system, Anderson was determined that she would not allow her circumstances to affect her adult life, the life of her kids, or the lives of children within her reach.

Holding her passion for a strong family, people and children close, Anderson set out on a mission to develop multiple platforms focused on creating an effective household, business leaders, and well-rounded children. For parents, she hosts her signature Parenting Confident Kids series and bi-annual retreats. For children, she founded Create It Kids Club—a social skills training company for youth, K-8.


Image description: Headshot of Tameka Anderson, Founder of Parenting Confident Kids