3 Ways You Can Build Your Child’s Confidence
Every parent wants their child to walk with their head held high, feeling that they can take on any challenge, but that level of confidence doesn’t always come naturally. For most children, self-esteem and confidence are developed over time through experience, achievement, and support from their parents and peers.
As they grow, children will be faced will all kinds of influencing factors and events that will negatively affect their confidence. Some may be minor, like earning a poor grade on a single test or a disagreement with a friend. Others may have a significant impact, like being bullied or feeling that they cannot live up to the expectations of parents, teachers, and others.
That’s why one of the most important roles for a parent is to be a confidence builder and help your children develop confidence and a positive sense of self.
I have worked with children of all abilities for 16 years as a daycare director, teacher, and tutor. I am also a parent. Within these roles, I have fostered the development of confidence from infancy through to high school graduation.
Here are three tips parents can use to help build their child’s confidence, no matter what stage of life your child is in.
Encourage them to pursue their interests and be an active participant
Your child will likely have a wide array of interests as they grow. Some may be fleeting, but by encouraging whatever your child is “into,” you are helping them to challenge their abilities, grow as an individual, and learn the value of their efforts. As they pursue their interests, they will begin to see how their knowledge and abilities have grown and will recognize how far they have come.
Nothing gives a confidence boost like being able to say, “look at what I’ve achieved!”
Whenever you can, join them! Whether it’s a quick game of hockey in the driveway, stargazing together, or just chatting about the latest superhero movie, you are showing your child that they are worthwhile and interesting. This helps them to develop a sense of security and fulfillment, which is essential to confidence.
Give specific praise
How many times have you told your child, “you’re so smart” or “you’re so talented?” Giving positive praise is vitally important, however, specific praise is most impactful. Promote a growth mindset by giving praise that highlights your child’s effort such as, “What a creative way to solve that problem,” or “I can see that you thought this through very carefully.” This will allow your child to see the relationship between their hard work and achievements.
Understanding that they haven’t got to where they are by luck or talent, but because they have worked for it, helps children to feel capable and accomplished, which in turn helps them feel more confident.
Take a step back
As a parent, I know how hard it can be to let your child make decisions on their own and to make mistakes, but they need to learn how. There is a fine line between being a supportive confidence builder and being over-involved. If children are never allowed to make their own choices and mistakes, they won’t develop confidence and will look to others for reassurance.
This may mean that you go to the grocery store with a 5-year-old dressed in a Spiderman costume, cowboy hat, florescent yellow vest, and rubber boots (my favorite of my son’s clothing choices, by far), or that your teen chooses a college further from home than you had hoped.
Taking a step back means giving your child space to make decisions and mistakes in a safe environment and letting them figure out what does and doesn’t work for them.
They may not always make decisions you agree with or you may see a mistake coming from a mile away, but your child needs the opportunity to learn for themselves. Practicing their decision making (and mistake making) with your support will allow your child to feel more secure in their own abilities and help their confidence flourish.
What’s most important in being a true confidence builder is being there for your child.
Be someone they can turn to, help them solve problems, assure them that they are capable, and give them the space to prove that capability to themselves.
About the Author:
Becky Ward, the Education Experience Specialist for Tutor Doctor is a certified K-12 teacher with experience in daycare, tutoring, and special education. Becky is an expert in working one-to-one with children to help them build confidence in themselves both inside and outside of academics.