Being a kid isn't easy. We've all got horror stories from our childhood: things that felt so important at the time, but which sound so trivial as adults. The time that our friends stopped speaking to us, the day we got moved off the football squad, the moment we realised that maths had finally beaten us.
When you're a child, things like this can shape your whole universe, leaving you feeling alone and unconfident.
Thankfully, parents can help! We may not be able to make the sadness go away, but we can help to make a child feel supported and loved. Then, hopefully, they'll be able to deal with anything life throws at them.
We asked mums to share their tips and tricks for boosting their children's confidence. Let us know if you have any advice you'd like to add!
Probably Jessica Milln sums it up with her daily ritual:
"It's very simple. Every day I tell them I love them, every night I still give them a hug and chat to them when I put them to bed. I remind them that I love them equally but that they are all uniquely different. They are now, 11, 13 and 15 and it can take an age to do the nightly putting-to-bed routine – often when I desperate to put myself to bed – but they still demand a 'hug and a kiss' from me before they go to sleep."
It's not easy to pass confidence to a child – especially if you don't feel confident yourself. Not only is there a good chance they've inherited your personality, your child is also sensitive enough to pick up on your own anxieties.
[Related feature: Proper sideline etiquette for parents]
Mamacook has always found this a problem "I don't feel particularly confident myself... and I am over-reliant on external evidence that I'm doing well.” However, she tries to counter-act that in her own son, "I do tell him I love him, a lot. I give him lots of cuddles and I tell him when he does things well."
"I was raised by a very shy, nervous woman", says Rowena S. "But she spent a lot of time telling us to be tough and not being particularly sympathetic of our school woes or our own shyness." Now that Rowena has a daughter of her own – also a timid soul – she is trying the opposite approach. "I remember feeling very alone and very afraid a lot of my childhood. I would hate my daughter to feel like that".
Ruth T agrees. Her daughter was cripplingly shy as a young child, but now she is a happy and confident little girl. She's a firm believer that a child that lacks self-confidence needs to know his or her parents are there. "Once they're older, they'll just have that inner self-belief that comes from years of being supported and reassured."
But that doesn't mean discouraging your child from taking on new challenges. Alex Milway is a children's author and illustrator who runs children's workshops. "I always think it's a shame when parents hover over their children, or sit and do the drawings for them,” he says. “It's great when parents join in, but sometimes it feels like they aren't giving their child the chance to be independent"
Even if your child isn't particularly gifted at sports or schoolwork, knowing that you're proud of their effort will help them to enjoy taking part even if they don't win.
As Jessica explains, "I don't believe we can expect our kids to go out into the world feeling confident – and able to handle disappointment when they find there are things that they can't do – unless they feel completely secure, loved and confident their worries and fears are listened to at home."
But what happens if loving parents and a happy home life aren't enough to make a child feel confident? " In that case I'm not afraid to ask the school, or friends to give a little extra positive support", says Jessica.
Ruth T suggests really listening to your child. "If my daughter is struggling with something, I don't just say 'never mind darling', I talk to her about it – making sure I don't judge or suggest solutions. I talk it through and try to help her to find her own solutions."
It's certainly tough being a small person, but if we can equip our child with the skills like self-belief and a sense of humour, hopefully things won't be so hard after all.
At the heart of Team Mum is the video series Raising an Olympian, sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, profiling athletes from across the world, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic Games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Watch the videos on Yahoo! Lifestyle Team Mum.