How can I encourage my child's confidence and self-esteem?
How to Build Children's Confidence
Being confident is important to future success. Children are sensitive and influenced by the world around them. Providing encouragement is crucial to your child's level of confidence. They need support from parents and adults, but they also need to learn how to be independent. By teaching model behavior and providing support, children will be more confident and learn how to build a positive self-image.
Help your child develop a positive self-image.Help them to appreciate the good things about themselves. Being confident is about having self-esteem. By believing in them, they are more likely to believe in themselves. Confidence from adults boosts a child's self-image because they often look up to adults, who are their role models.
- Use verbal and non verbal cues to impart confidence in your children. For example, when you see them working hard a homework assignment, say "I know it's tough, but you can get through it. Take it one step at a time."
- Or if they showed organizational skills by putting away toys when you didn't need to ask, give a thumbs up or a high-five and say, "Awesome. Thank you for taking initiative and putting away the toys yourself."
- Give hugs. This can help to provide a sense of security and support.
Say words of encouragement that are specific.Praise beyond their performance or accomplishments. Focus your encouragement by pointing out what specific characteristics or actions they are displaying that are good. Make sure the words of encouragement focus on things that the child can control in their own behavior.
- Focus the encouragement based on the character trait you want your child to develop.
- For instance, if your child was honest about breaking something, explain that there will be consequences for breaking the item, but that you are proud of them for telling the truth and taking responsibility.
Help your child to cope with failing.No one is immune to failure or loss at some point. Help your child to learn self-compassion through encouragement. Children need to learn resilience despite failures so that they can be able to recover from problems. Encourage your child to understand that setbacks area part of life and can be overcome. Be a positive motivator for your child, rather than focusing on their faults.
- Your child's self-worth should not be measured by their performance alone. Teach them the importance of their "inner voice" that tells them to be kind to themselves, to be generous in spirit to others, and to acknowledge that each person has faults.
- Help your child view failures as learning experiences. For example, before a soccer match, talk with your child about how they might feel if they won the game and how they might feel if they lost. Provide reassurance that it is not just about winning or losing, but it is about putting in the best effort to help their team. Explain that one game does not determine the future of their team.
- Change your child's negative self-talk about their failings into words of inspiration. Consider saying, "I know that you're worried about your grades, but I am so proud of how hard you've worked this semester. Don't be too hard on yourself. You can do this."
- Remind your child of a time when they overcame a challenge. Ask them how they did overcame the challenge and see if they can use the same strategy in their current situation. For instance, perhaps they have learned to read difficult words, and use that perseverance for the present issue.
Nurture your child's interests.If they fall in love with nature and outdoors, they may want to learn more about forests, animals, rivers, and plants. Cultivate and encourage them to learn and explore their interests further. Take them on trips. Have them attend wilderness classes. Provide them with books. Your child will likely be more confident when they are doing something that deeply interests them.
Help your child to cope with fears.Your child may have social anxiety or phobias that decrease their self-confidence. Assist your child to understand that their fears are not as bad as they seem. Young children may have imaginative fears of monsters or the dark that take time to overcome.
- Talk with your child about their fears. Provide reassurance that they are safe. Consider the bedtime routine of tucking them in at night as a way to soothe their fears and make them feel safe. This private quiet time can help to make your child feel relaxed and less anxious about their fears.
- Reward brave behavior when they are facing their fears. Use verbal praise that is specific. Consider using a sticker program or other rewards for younger kids.
- Assist your child in overcoming anxieties by exposing them to difficult situations in a controlled way for a short time. For example if your child has difficulty saying hello to strangers, help to model the behavior and teach them to say hello for 15 minutes in the grocery store or a similar place. Provide words of encouragement during this time.
Show that your love is unconditional.No one is perfect. Accept that your child will do things right, and sometimes make mistakes. Learn that they can grow when you guide them. Express how your love is there no matter what happens. This will make them for safe and more secure with themselves.
- Tell them that you are proud of them when they are acting appropriately.
- Tell them that you love them. Make a point to talk about how you love them often. By using words or hugs to express their love, they will better understand that you care and are feeling supported. People who feel supported are more likely to succeed in life.
- Avoid making your child think that your love is based on their performance--in school, in sports, or in their other activities.
Allow your child to do things for themselves.Depending on the activity, children can learn a lot more by doing it themselves--making a sandwich, feeding the dog, or setting the table for dinner. Though it may be messy and take more time, it can also be greatly rewarding for your child's confidence.
- Patience is key to helping your child grow in confidence.
- Give children the time and space to try something new and learn from their mistakes. Provide help when they ask rather than doing the project or activity for them.
- For example, maybe your child is interested in pouring their own glass of juice into a cup. You may want to do it for them to avoid a mess. However, consider taking a step back and helping them learn to pour their own juice. Even if they make a spill, you can teach them what to do when a spill happens.
Introduce your child to new experiences.One way to foster confidence is to see and do different things with your child. By sharing in these new experiences with them early on, you can teach them that life is not so scary or overwhelming as it may seem. Spend quality time with your child after school or on weekends in places that are different than your usual routine.
- The experiences don't have to be expensive. It about building your child's interest in your community, in nature, and in learning. The more that they see and do, the less small or isolated they may feel.
- Go a different park or library than usually do. Take them to a natural history museum. Go to a state or national park.
- Take them to a restaurant with food they've never had before. Show them a community garden. Take them to a farmer's market.
- Take them to a sporting event that you both don't usually watch or attend.
- Teach them about giving back. Take them to a local food-pantry to sort cans or donate goods. Bring them to a retirement community to spend time doing activities with older adults. Join in a charity walk that helps a local non-profit.
Let your child take healthy risks.It is important that your child learn about how certain risks can help build confidence. In tough situations, we take chances, make choices, and learn to take responsibility for those decisions. This is the same with children. However, first you should teach them about safety. Let them know what to do if they feel unsafe and how to step away from things that are too risky. This will give them skills they can use to build confidence when taking risks.
- Foster your child's resilience and curiosity by encouraging them to try new things. When your child makes age-appropriate choices, they will feel more confident.
- Be mindful of risks that may harm versus healthy risks that can be teaching moments.
- For example, if your child feels shy in front of large groups, encourage them to enroll in a theater class. Help them use creativity to overcome their fears. Even if it's a small part with a few lines, they can feel more confident about being in front of people.
Give your child responsibilities.For young children, they may want to be helpful and show that they can do things. Consider giving them chores around the house that may match their strengths.
- For example, if your seven year old child likes to organize things, ask them to help with sorting clothes and putting them in piles.
- Or if your ten-year-old like cars, have them help you wash the car or clean the interior.
Avoid putting too much pressure on your child.Avoid blaming them if they aren't living up to your expectations. Remember that their confidence may be based on trying to please you. Set realistic goals and expectations depending on the child's age and stage of development. If they see that you are anxious and upset, they may lose their confidence and become withdrawn.
Teaching Model Behavior
Reinforce good behavior.Offer appropriate praise when you child does something well. Encourage them. Compliment them and be specific.
- Praise them when they are working hard and sticking with something challenging.
- For example, don't say "You are good kid." Instead say,"I like the way you cleaned your room. You have good organizational skills."
Provide support when they make a mistake.If a child does something inappropriate like spill a cup of grape juice on a carpet, learn to correct them in a supportive way. Avoid yelling at them with harsh words. Teach them that making mistakes can be a way to gain wisdom and learning for the future.
- Encourage them during setbacks. Help them to understand the importance of persistence.
- Mistakes can be learning opportunities. For example, if they spill grape juice on a white carpet, teach them the tools about how to clean up the spill, and what are good cleaning agents for such a spill. Get them involved in how to clean, rather than just punishing them for their mistake.
Act as a role model.Children learn the most from your behavior, especially how you handle mistakes, bad news, and adverse situations. Children invariably imitate adult behavior, good and bad. They want to act like adults themselves.
- Teach your child about good manners and appropriate etiquette in different situations. If you are at special dinner party and your children are present, help them talk to other adults in a polite way. Teach them about shaking hands with adults when meeting them, or giving a hug to their relatives.
- Take note that your child is watching how you do things. If they see you swearing, they are more likely to swear. If they see you helping someone, they are more likely to help others.
Point out good behavior in others.Whether the people are your friends, family, or even strangers, show your child what good behavior looks like. Talk with your child about what that person did well, and what they did in the process.
- Choose role models such as ordinary heroes in your community or people who have overcome adversity throughout history. Avoid using modern-day celebrities as primary examples of good behavior.
- Help your child to understand that these admirable qualities are attainable by using real-life examples. Show them how resilience and confidence are possible despite challenges.
QuestionMy kid is four years old, she is active at home but feels shy among other people.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry introducing her to some of your friends she has never met before. Help her to learn that people you trust can be trusted by her and are not going to harm her. Also check your own interactions with other people, she may be copying your attitude.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I help my teen daughter to be more responsible and to improve her study habits? Especially since she doesn't like to study, is doing poorly in tests, and has also been lying a lot.TessterCommunity AnswerMake sure to set down consequences for her actions, and put in place awards for doing well on tests. Look over her work and help her if she needs it. A lot of kids act out in a way to gain more attention or because something has been wrong in her life, make sure to comfort her and ask her often if everything is alright. To improve her study habits, get flashcards or find the way that she studies best, maybe she gets distracted, so make sure you give her a quiet, calm environment where she can focus and do her best.Thanks!
QuestionMy son is fourteen years old. He is lacking in confidence, and if he gets bullied, he gets frightened and doesn't fight back. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMaybe you could enroll him in a martial arts class? As a teen, I had low self confidence, but taking Taekwondo really helped me. If he's not interested in that, theater/acting classes are also good for building self-confidence.Thanks!
Video: "Building Confidence In Your Child" by Dr. James Dobson - Ch. 1
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