The Secret to Raising Self-Assured Kids:
Let Them Tell You
By Angela Talent

The Secret to Raising Self-Assured Kids:
Let Them Tell You
By guest writer Angela Talent
Finding Good Certification Member
and Founder of Me Making Sense of Myself

Angela

I was looking at my teenagers and thinking, “If only they could have the confidence and support I didn’t have.” Then I found myself talking from the “Peanut Gallery”, “You need to do this.” Or “You need to do that.” Or “If only you would have asked, I could have told you that was going to be a problem.” None of my comments were helpful and none of them were bringing us together. Absolutely none of them helped them to feel safe, confident or successful. If anything, they were driving us further apart.

They were getting the idea that they weren’t good enough from me! It was the opposite of what I was trying to do but I didn’t know any other way. I scrolled by Brian’s short videos on social media and in the stories, he was saying there was another way to connect. I thought, I’m going to try this.

...

It was late 2022, there was a free short class he was offering. I went (ok, so I didn’t really go anywhere, I hopped on a Zoom). This was safe. I had been disabled for eleven and a half years at this point and being around people scared the crap out of me. I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (the worst pain syndrome you could get) and usually people would reach out for a handshake, grab my shoulder or hit my back, so I limited the places I would go and the interactions I would have. Less pain and more time to spend with the kids. I thought it was great with the exception that I was driving them crazy!

In the class Brian taught us how to ask, “What’s one good thing that happened in your day?” First, he showed us how and, before I knew it, I was in a breakout room with a stranger asking about the good in their day. I felt energized and they did too. This was just what I needed. I needed more of this feeling that told me I was important and valued and so did my kids.

I eagerly went into my life to practice. I was going to connect with my kids the same way I did with the people in the class. I asked my oldest, “Hey, what’s one good thing that happened in your day?” She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “That’s dumb. I’m not answering that.” Then she walked away. I had learned to accept no for an answer and that was definitely a no. I thought, I must be doing something wrong.

I went back to Brian and told him I didn’t think it was working. In my mind, this was supposed to help me have better conversations and that one certainly went nowhere. Brian explained that when a question is asked, your brain can’t help but answer it; her brain was answering it but she just wasn’t sharing with me.

I kept practicing and showing up to events. I wanted my kids and my friends and, well,  everyone I came into contact with to know they mattered - which was how I felt after these conversations.

There was one thing missing from my equation; I was going around with this idea if I asked the right question, they would get the same feeling I got. But that wasn’t true. I learned that when you ask a question for someone else to feel better it puts us into status disequilibrium. Basically, it was like me walking around telling people they weren’t good enough and needed my help so they could feel good. No wonder my daughter was still telling me the questions were dumb!

I had to figure out my why. That’s what Brian said. What was the benefit to me? Why did I want that? If I have that, what would I have more of? Well, I thought I want more fun. So, I decided to ask every chance I got about the good. I literally turned it into a game. I asked people everywhere. It was great fun and still not the point. I had to figure out why I was asking the question I was asking. And fun wasn't really the why.

A moment of serendipity arrived. My daughter stood up to her boss for something that was not ok. She called me in tears. She lost her job. She was devastated. I was able to validate her pain. I was wondering how she got through this really hard situation and if there was anything she would do again. Tough interactions are bound to creep into my life, and she has always been cool under pressure and I wanted to know how she did it. So, I asked, “What would you do again?” She told me she would stand up again for what she knew to be right. This was the beginning of a great conversation.

A few days later, I realized I needed some confidence to start - really start - my YouTube Channel. I thought, I need to know what she knows. She lost her job and knew she did the right thing and I needed some of that. So, I called her and we talked for almost an hour. She never talked to me that long! I got schooled in how to have confidence and I loved every minute of it. The part I didn’t anticipate was that she was going to have more confidence too and she started applying for jobs that same day.

This journey was not easy. I got a lot of bumps and bruises along the way and, just like any good book that keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning, totally worth it.

Now my kids know, not because I told them, not because I asked them questions so that I could help them, they know they are successful, safe and confident because they told me so.