Observe kids at the playground, it’s easy to spot the ones that don’t dare or don’t try because they aren’t confident. We aren’t born self-assured, we learn over time through our experiences. As parents, it’s part of our responsibility to build self-confidence in a child.
After all, it’s difficult to be happy when we don’t trust in our abilities and we want our kids to grow into confident adults who trust in their own capabilities.
In addition, confidence, or self-esteem, is key to healthy emotional and cognitive development. This foundation enables a child to better deal with setbacks, stress, and anxiety throughout their life.
What is self-confidence?
When a child is confident he simply believes in him or herself. It englobes how they see themselves and what they think they are capable of accomplishing. Self-esteem is greatly influenced by their feeling of being loved and supportive caregivers.
Some parents are concerned that too much self-confidence can turn their child into a narcissist. However, that’s a myth. There’s a big difference between self-confidence and arrogance or being superficial. These negative traits are in large part due to personality and temperament as well as the education we give them. Empathy, kindness, authenticity, and gratitude are other traits that we can teach them to create balance.
Unconditional love is at the foundation of self-confidence
It’s great to love your children, but it’s even more important to make them feel loved.
If you want to build self-confidence in a child it starts with your unconditional love. From that, he can develop a sense of security and belonging that will shape his self-esteem. In addition, it becomes a foundation for all the future relationships your child will have.
Unconsciously the message your child hears within is: “I’m worthy to be loved.” Therefore, “I trust myself and I believe in myself.”
It sounds like a huge responsibility, but it’s not that complicated. Be spontaneous with your child in your display of affection. Hug, say “I love you,” trust their judgment, show you are proud of them, spend time together… These are all ways that we can express love.
5 ways to build self-confidence in a child
Here are complementary approaches to help your children develop their self-esteem:
Spend quality time together
Playing and having fun together is a beautiful way to show your child that you enjoy spending time with them. Not only will it develop a stronger bond between you, but playing is also important for developing social bonds and increasing feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
By spending quality time together, not just evenings watching television on the sofa, you’re expressing that they matter.
Responsibilities & accountability
Yes, kids should help around the house. They need to know how to care for their space and appreciate having a clean and comfortable home. Still deeper than that, having chores gives children a sense of responsibility and accountability.
Of course, give them age-appropriate tasks. They probably won’t do things perfectly, but encouragement and praise for trying will go a long way in strengthening their self-esteem.
Autonomy & independence
As they grow, children increasingly seek independence. Around middle school, many kids are getting used to taking care of themselves more. For example by waking up on time by themselves and getting ready in the morning, walking to school, and getting their homework done.
It can be tempting for some parents, but helicopter parenting is detrimental to a child’s development. As much as we want to make their life easier and make sure they do everything right, we need to leave them space to experiment and be autonomous. By doing things on their own they see they are capable and that’s huge for their self-confidence.
Words carry meaning
We are only human and at times our kids will drive us mad. However, no matter how frustrated or angry we get, we must be careful not to use hurtful words.
Try not to yell and don’t use insults or demeaning language. If necessary, take some time to cool down before disciplining your child. When we are emotional we tend to be a little brutal. Explain to your child what they have done wrong with logical arguments, what are the consequences, and their responsibility.
Failures are opportunities
No matter our age, we learn a great deal from our failures. If we teach our kids to view mistakes as opportunities it gives them a growth mindset.
Finding solutions to setbacks, knowing that we have people in our corner and that even if we fail we are still loved is tremendous in building resilience. From a young age, our children incorporate these unconscious signals from their caregivers. This contributes to building their self-confidence and the lack of support can on the contrary deplete it.
I hope these tips will remove some of the doubt about how to build self-confidence in a child. If you would like more ideas on teaching your kids a lifelong positive mindset check out my article eco-friendly habits for your kids – 4 easy tips for the whole family.
Until next time, Tania xx