The Three Words That Destroy Your Child’s Confidence

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Blog, Parenting, Thoughts | 4 comments

The Three Words That Destroy Your Child’s Confidence

Fearlessness is not the same as the absence of fearSeth Godin

Obviously. But take a moment to think about it because this is a really important distinction for anyone trying to raise a brave, confident, empowered child.


If you are like every other parent on the planet, at one point or another you have uttered these three words to your child: “don’t be afraid.”

(And for the record, I am as guilty as anyone).

You (we) did it with the best of intentions, of course. And you probably noticed that it didn’t work.

That’s because this is the worst thing you can tell your child if you want them to learn how to be brave, confident and empowered.

Here’s why:

Absence of fear means that you are not afraid of things.

But, there are legitimate things that your child should be afraid of.

  • Pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make your child brave, it makes her foolish;
  • it doesn’t make her confident, it makes her ignorant; and
  • it doesn’t empower her, it simply teaches her to ignore challenges.

Being fearless is about acknowledging that you are scared, but not letting that fear consume you.

  • Teaching your child to face her fears makes her brave because she develops the strength she needs to face difficulties;
  • it makes her confident because she learns to overcome her challenges; and
  • it empowers her to become the mistress of her own life, regardless of what may come her way.

How does this work in practice? Easy, just swap out those three troubling words for these:

So, you’re afraid, now what are you going to do about it?

* photo credit: Historias Visuales via photopin cc


  1. Wow, simple yet so insightful! Good advice for adults as well.

    • Thanks Ted!

  2. As I experienced that by myself I tried to avoid that to do to my kids. And I can tell it works to tell them the truth or everything close to the truth depending the age of the child. They learn to accept their feelings and learn to handle them 🙂

    • I completely agree with you Sybille. By sheltering our children from the truth (and from their own feelings), we make it harder for them to overcome their challenges and to feel empowered.

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