Children with healthy self-esteem and self-confidence learn more, achieve more and are generally happier than those with low confidence levels. Building children’s and young people’s confidence is complex.
Great confidence-builders use a number of approaches that impact on how kids’ think; how they feel and what they can do.
Here are some practical strategies that you can use to build real self-confidence in kids of all ages:
1. Model confident thinking
Kids soak up the language, thinking and behaviour of those closest to them in their environment. Parents and teachers, play a part in modelling confident thinking and behaviour particularly when it comes to tackling new activities. In particular, let kids hear positive self-talk when you tackle something new. They should hear something like, “I’ll have a go at this. If I don’t do so well then I can try again tomorrow.” This is far more effective than “I’m no good at this. I’ll probably stuff it up.” As well show kids how to reframe their negative self-talk by showing them how to find a positive in difficult situations.
2. Focus on effort & improvement
Current thinking shows that people who believe that they can increase their intelligence through effort and challenge actually get smarter and do better in school, work, and life over time. One way to develop a growth mindset is to focus your language on effort an improvement rather than on the results of what they do. By linking success with effort you are teaching them success comes from something other than their purely ability, talents or smarts.
3. Praise strategy
While effort is key for achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Kids need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches-not just sheer effort-to learn and improve. It helps too to focus language on better and smarter ways on improving. Comments such as “That was a smart idea to tackle the hardest task while you were fresh!”(strategy) and “You recognised the first few steps were the most important but then after that you were right” are descriptive statements that have significant instructional value for kids.
4. Develop self-help skills from an early age
A child’s self-esteem comes as a result of his or her successes and accomplishments. The most important competencies to build confidence are basic self-help skills. These form the building blocks upon which other competencies such organisational skills and many social skills are formed.
5. Let them spend more time in environments where they feel confident
Some children thrive on the sporting field but struggle in the classroom; they may be confident risk-takers outdoors but are held back by self-doubt in social settings. While self-confidence tends to be situational, it is also transferrable. That is, often when you feel brave in one area of their life then these feelings tend to merge into other areas. Confidence has a snowball effect so increase the time your child spends in areas where they shine to give their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth a boost.
Most importantly, great parents and teachers have a knack of communicating confidence in kids. They find ways to let kids know that they believe in them – that they know their kids will perform and succeed, that they have faith that they can deal with life’s challenges and know that they can become more independent.