A confident child is a happy child, and what more could we want for our children than happiness and health? Confidence and self-esteem give children so much more than just happiness. In fact, one report states:
‘As the level of self-esteem increases, so do achievement scores; as self-esteem decreases, achievement scores decline’. (Covington in Self-esteem and failure in school).
This article will give you some useful tips on building confidence and self-esteem in your child.
Confidence can be defined as either:
Confidence is also about you having confidence in your child, and them having faith in life.
As parents, we may want to wrap our little ones in cotton wool to protect them. But this is not the way to bring up a confident, self-sufficient child. True confidence comes from inner strength, independent of others.
However, it is not just something people are born with. It can be nurtured, and it can be taught and learned.
Be a positive role model.
Do not project your own insecurities and fears onto your child. Don’t expect them to lack confidence, just because you would in their shoes. Your child is not you. They have their own personalities, qualities and resources – and they will be perfectly confident, if they are supported to flourish.
If you know that you lack confidence, ‘fake it to make it’. Acting confident can make you feel, and be, confident.
Your child looks up to you – and often wants to be just like you. Prevent them from picking up your bad habits. If you are crippled with self-doubt, seek help from professionals yourself.
Children are not always able to communicate their emotions effectively. In younger children, the signs can be subtle. But confidence or self-esteem might be an issue if, for example:
These are not just signs of low confidence. Some of them might also suggest depression or introversion.
Here are some pointers which should help:
There are some tips for toddlers and pre-schoolers that are still beneficial for parents, regardless of your child’s age.
Although a good start with a supportive family is great, life outside the home also has a huge effect.
Apparently, girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are 9 years old (McGraw: Media, hormones, peer pressure do a number on girls’ confidence, The News-Sentinel, Mon, Jul. 31, 2006).
We need to strengthen our children’s confidence against the pressures they face.
Be positive. Praise them for who they are, as well as what they do.
So many things can affect a child’s confidence. If they seem concerned about something, identify the problem with them. It may not even be a problem, if you talk it through.
Make time to listen to your child. Reassure them that they can talk to you about anything. If they have self-doubts – about how they look, their abilities, how clever they are, or their fears about speaking in front of people – you can help.
Whatever they have to deal with, they are not alone. Together, you can come up with a solution.
Give your child responsibilities to build their confidence and become independent. Encourage them to set their own alarm clocks, tidy their room, or feed their pets.
These skills enable them to manage their own lives… as well as bolstering their self-confidence.
Having goals and aspirations will focus your child on what they want to achieve.
The key is to guide your child to set realistic goals that are challenging yet achievable. Set modest, short term goals together, and identify smaller steps to achieve them.
For example: with a view to getting into a team – the first step is ‘go to sports practice’. Every step achieved will build their confidence.
Making friends, socialising, gently pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone in a controlled manner, will all help your child.
Trying their hardest and not quite achieving a goal is still commendable. ‘Failing to do’ something is not the same as ‘being a failure.’
If they do not succeed, it doesn’t mean that they have failed. They just have things to learn. How could they do things differently next time?
There’s no such thing as failure. Only feedback. It’s all a learning process. Encourage them to try again – doing things differently.
A child’s confidence will strengthen if they are encouraged to make new friends or engage with adults, in a safe or supervised environment. They will develop their social skills and abilities to interact.
Trying out new things challenges them, but helps build confidence. The more opportunities they get to step out of their ‘comfort zone’, the more they learn and boost their confidence.
Confidence is a vital quality in the individual, but it also impacts on society. The Centre for Confidence quotes:
'Confidence consists of positive expectations for favourable outcomes. Confidence influences the willingness to invest - to commit money, time, reputation, emotional energy, or other resources... This investment, or its absence, shapes the ability to perform. In that sense, confidence lies at the heart of civilization. Everything about an economy, a society, an organization, or a team depends on it. Every step we take, every investment we make, is based on whether we feel we can count on ourselves and others to accomplish what has been promised. Confidence determines whether our steps - individually or collectively - are tiny and tentative or big and bold.' - Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Confidence: Leadership and the Psychology of Turnarounds.