Building Confidence in Children
The importance of building confidence in kids cannot be over-estimated. Confidence and self-esteem are the foundations on which a healthy life can be built, with many studies highlighting how a lack of self-confidence can cause a great many issues later in life.
Children with confidence are able to enjoy stronger relationships, are able to trust their own instincts more often and are less likely to get into trouble or addictive behaviour cycles.
For parents, if your own parents were not particularly good at building your confidence when you were a child, it can be hard to know what you need to do and what you need to avoid in order to give your child the most positive start in life.
Here are some guidelines to help you build confidence in children.
Believe in Your ChildTalk to them in a positive way and expect the best from them. When you talk to your child, use affirmative language that does not over-estimate their potential achievements but certainly highlights that you believe they are able to achieve their goals, whether that is good marks in a spelling test or swimming a length of the swimming pool. Be careful not to have too high expectations or the child will fear failure. If something goes wrong, you can talk about what could be done differently next time as long as you keep a positive tone.
Praise and Positive FeedbackWhen your child has achieved something new or done something well, make sure you are vocal in your praise. This is an area that child development experts often disagree on as over-praising minor events has been criticised for producing children with an unrealistic sense of entitlement. You will know what a good achievement is for your child, so make sure you give plenty of praise and positive feedback.
Criticise the Behaviour, Not the ChildThis could also come under the heading ‘Be Specific’. If your child is being badly behaved, rather than saying ‘You are being a very naughty girl’, it is better for building confidence to be specific about what it is about their behaviour that is naughty, rather than calling the child naughty. So it is better to say ‘It is naughty to scribble over your brother’s drawing’.
Encourage IndependenceIt is very difficult to get the balance right in encouraging independence in your child because you want to protect them from any possible dangers, but it is widely accepted that a child that feels trusted and capable to do certain things by themselves is far more likely to have good self-esteem.
What constitutes appropriate activities for your child will depend on where you live, their age, what you have already taught them (such as crossing the road) and what you think they are comfortable with, but you need to keep pushing these boundaries.
A good rule of thumb is to talk to your child and assess what they feel capable of in relation to what you think is acceptable. If, for example, your child wants to walk to the corner shop alone to buy some sweets, you need to look at whether they will need to cross a road, if you know people locally, how busy it is likely to be and so on. Remember that small milestones encourage independence too, so even if you feel your child is not ready to go to the local shop alone, you do not need to spell this out to the child, but you could say that you can walk there together but you will wait outside while they buy their sweets.