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How To Build A Child's Confidence

How To Build A Child’s Confidence

How To Build A Child’s Confidence

Self-esteem is developed over time. It is developed when we feel accepted, seen, heard, loved, and cared for. Children who develop high self-esteem become more confident in themselves. They also have a more positive outlook on life. This makes it more likely that they will try new things, stand up for themselves (less vulnerable to peer pressure), bounce back from mistakes, and form healthy relationships with others. It is important to know that self-esteem and confidence can be increased at any time. So let’s take a look at 15 ways how to build a child’s confidence.

how to build a child's confidence

1. Take an interest in what they are into

By taking an interest in what our children love, we are showing them that they are seen by us and that they are important to us. We also help them to develop the confidence to pursue their hobbies. Taking a genuine interest in our children’s interests can greatly increase their confidence.  

2. Becoming a part of groups

By joining groups with our children we help them to develop a sense of belonging, which increases confidence and self-esteem. We also help them to develop social skills. This is a good way to take an interest in our children’s interests and help them to explore more about themselves. We can try different types of groups and let our children know that it’s also ok to leave if something isn’t right for them. This will teach them that they can control their own happiness. 

3. Support them in what they are struggling with

Instead of shaming a child when they are struggling, we can join them in their discomfort, This helps them to learn how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and to be able to ask for help when they need it. 

4. Help them to regulate and problem-solve

We cannot expect children not to show negative emotions such as anger and irritability. Instead, we need to guide them in how to navigate these emotions. When we do this, we are then able to help them with problem-solving skills. Developing this kind of emotional intelligence in children will strengthen their self-esteem and make them more independent. This will also help them to develop confidence in their ability to overcome problems. 

You may also like: Emotional Regulation- tips for parents

5. Talk to them about people

Even with all the preparation, we still need to send our children out into the world, where they will come across people who will not treat them right. This is why it is important to speak to our children about other people. This includes why people may behave in certain ways. By doing this we will help our children to not internalize the negative behaviour of others. This can help them develop confidence in how to react to people who are not behaving in a healthy way. 

6. Compliment them on things that are unique to them

It is important not to compare our children to other children or to their siblings. Instead, we need to make them feel good about being who they are, and about their uniqueness. Even comparing them in a positive way is not ideal, for example, telling our children they are the best in their class at school, could create the illusion that to be worthy they always need to be better than others. Instead, we need to compliment them for things that make them who they are, because these things will not be dependent on any outside factors, therefore their self-esteem and confidence will not be vulnerable. 

Some examples of how you could compliment your child:

  • I love your passion for that topic
  • You have a creative style
  • I like hearing your thoughts on that

7. Practice self-compassion

It is important that we respond to our children with warmth and compassion. Children need to learn to treat themselves with kindness. This includes when they are having a hard time when they are experiencing life stress or when they make a mistake.  If we treat them harshly or coldly then they are going to internalise these feelings. They then may treat themselves in those same ways when they experience difficulties. In contrast, if we are kind and caring then they are more likely to treat themselves in the same way. This is because our children believe they are worthy of how we treat them. 

8. Help them develop a growth mindset

Developing a growth mindset helps children see possibilities rather than thinking in fixed terms.  A growth mindset means seeing that they can improve their abilities through effort and actions. This includes setbacks,  and using them as motivation to take on challenges and learn from them. Neuroscientific Research shows that children’s mindsets can change from fixed to growth. They demonstrated this by teaching children about how the mind grows with effort.  We can say things like “You found a good way to do it” and talk about mistakes and what they can learn from them; ask questions like “What do you think didn’t work well?”.

9. Listen to their thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally

If we want our children to have confidence in themselves then we need to pay attention to what they have to say. When we listen with genuine intent to understand, our children grow to feel understood and believe that they matter. Being nonjudgmental means we accept our children as they are right now. By listening to our children in this way we also help them to connect and share instead of holding things inside. This is a parenting skill that will empower our children. 

10. Age-appropriate expectations

Having unreasonable expectations of our children in relation to their current development can lead to feelings of low self-esteem. Children can internalise unreasonable expectations as them not being good enough, or they could end up always putting other people’s needs before their own to feel accepted. On the other hand, if we take the time to understand their development, our children will be in an environment where they grow confident in their abilities. For example, child development specialists tell us that children do not develop the ability to share until they are around 3.5-4 years. This is due to a range of brain development processes such as still learning independence, empathy,  and language. 

You may also like: How To Be A Calm Parent With These Mindset Shifts

11. Freedom and boundaries

It’s important to find out the appropriate limits for the children’s age and to be clear about the boundaries we set. By doing this we encourage independence as guided by their age. Then we are able to give them the freedom to explore and gain confidence in themselves but with the safety of boundaries and guidance.

For example, a toddler might want to pour their drink, this is a brilliant sign that they are confident to try new things, yes they may spill it, but what is more important, building their confidence in themselves and their ability to bounce back after mistakes,  or the inconvenience of cleaning up some spilled juice?.

Likewise, an older child may want to go and hang out with their friends, this is a completely healthy and a good sign that your child is confident in themselves. We can add boundaries by giving them set times to come home and asking questions about where they’ll be and who with. 

12. Correct behaviour with compassion and warmth

We need to guide our children with their behaviour, this is a part of our role in their lives. This can be done with warmth and connectedness, it doesn’t need to be by punishment and shaming. In fact, punishment may be an emotional release for the adult but it doesn’t teach a child how to handle their emotions. Instead, the positive discipline approach states that “children learn (grow, feel safe, thrive) best when they feel a connection”.

Punishment and shaming create a fight, flight, or freeze response, whereas connecting with our children with warmth and love allows for guidance and direction. We often need to say no to our children, but this doesn’t need to be with harshness and coldness. We can still be warm and affectionate whatever their reaction is. Our job is to help them to learn that their emotions are okay and they can feel them and process them. Then we are able to help them grow confident to figure out more effective ways to handle their emotions. 

13. Accepting them for who they are, unconditionally

One of the biggest gifts we can give our children is to allow them to fully be themselves in our presence. We don’t want them to feel like they have to suppress, hide or change parts of themselves. We should let them follow their interests, be different, disagree, and express themselves in the ways that are right for them. Children are going to come across people throughout their lives who do not accept them for who they are. But if they have been loved at home by people who accept them fully, then they will always carry this acceptance within themselves. 

14. Value their effort regardless of the outcome

This helps children realise that their self-worth is not connected to how they perform. It will keep them feeling connected to their authentic selves. We want to cheer on our children when they succeed in things, and we also want to cheer them on when they don’t. Our children need to know that they are loved and valued simply for existing, and whatever they do in life is a part of them expressing who they are, not an expression of their worthiness.

15. Be a role model for confidence

Lastly, one of the most important ways we can help our children to develop confidence is by modeling it. Such as being responsible, and looking on the bright side [positive thinking), speaking to ourselves with kindness, taking care of our own needs, being kind to others, being proud of our own hard work, having boundaries for ourselves, and assertiveness. We are our children’s biggest educators of life. If we believe we can, then they will believe they can too.

 

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