Parents want to see their children grow into confident individuals who meet the goals they set for themselves. Children with a strong sense of self-confidence have the ability to handle life’s challenges by trusting in their own abilities and judgement. Self-confident children also demonstrate resiliency, overcoming obstacles and taking setbacks in stride. Highlighting information from our parent’s guide, Building Your Child’s Self-Confidence, we share several ways you can boost confidence in your kids.
A Portrait of a Self-Confident Child
Bonnie Benard, MSW, author of Fostering Resiliency in Kids and Resiliency: What Have We Learned? has identified several characteristics that self-confident children have in common. Boosting children’s self-confidence can help them to:
- Be optimistic in their views of the world and their place in it.
- Feel at ease interacting and engaging with others.
- Think through problems and focus on finding a solution.
- Have a sense of who they are; feel independent and in control.
- Plan and set goals for themselves.
Ways to Boost A Child’s Self-Confidence & Resilience
The strategies listed below can help parents build confidence in their kids and lay the foundation for the ongoing development of social-emotional skills and an ability to navigate their world.
1. Provide a Caring and Supportive Environment
Children’s self-confidence increases when they know that there are people (parents, teachers, friends) who love and accept them. They are not expected to be perfect but are allowed to be who they naturally are.
2. Focus on Doing, Not Being
When correcting children for inappropriate behavior, remember to focus your correction on the action and not the person. This will minimize feelings of shame or inferiority. Tell your child that, “Name calling is not allowed,” instead of saying, “You are not being a very good friend.”
3. Be Consistent
A parent’s role is to set rules and consequences and a child’s role is to test the limits of those rules. Be clear about the expectations you have set for your child and let him know that you believe in his ability to meet them.
4. Practice Active Listening
When parents give their children the undivided attention they need while sharing a story, asking a question, or showing off a skill, it lets them know that they are valued. Your body language goes a long way in showing that you’re engaged, so kneel down to eye level or sit side-by-side when interacting with your child.
5. Encourage Community Participation
Encourage children to take on responsibilities at home through chores, self-starting their homework, or prepping their clothes, lunch, and school bag for the next day. Owning tasks can make children feel like an important, contributing member of their family. The same can be accomplished through participation in school activities, sports teams, or community organizations.
6. Applaud An Adventurous Spirit
Encourage your child to try new things – whether it’s joining a sports team, learning to play an instrument, or building a new friendship. Keep the focus on trying and not necessarily succeeding. Support their efforts but also allow mistakes and failure to happen and see them as opportunities to improve.
7. Look for Teaching Moments
Nobody is perfect all the time, not even parents. Don’t be afraid to share your own mistakes with your child. Acknowledge your mistakes and discuss how you recovered. This makes it easier for children to accept their own shortcomings. When your child makes a mistake or fails at a task, compliment her willingness to try and talk about what she could do differently next time.
8. Be Specific and Authentic
When praising your child, use “I” statements and offer specific and authentic feedback to help boost his self-confidence. While all parents can be guilty of an absent-minded, “Oh, that’s great,” try, instead, to focus on a specific action or element of your child’s achievement. For example, “I laughed at that funny dog in your story,” or “I could tell you were working so hard out on the soccer field today.”
9. Recognize the Process
Recognize your child’s progress through a personal journey, not just the final result. When you’re studying a particularly tricky spelling list, offer encouragement like, “You knew how to spell half the words. Let’s keep working on the rest of the list!” This will encourage your child to put forth the effort needed to improve.