Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them. – Lady Bird Johnson
“I’m scared I’d fail the math test.” “I am not sure I’ll get selected in the team anyway.” “I don’t know if I can play the guitar as well as dad”
These sentences sound familiar? Does your child say things that indicate a lack of confidence? If yes, then read MomJunction’s tips on how to build confidence in kids. We have also added a few confidence-building games and activities in the end, as a bonus.
13 Tips To Build Confidence In Children
The things that you do and don’t, words that you say and don’t, and feelings that you express and don’t, contribute to your child’s level of self-confidence. If you want to do and say the right things to help build confidence in your children, then read on.
1. Love and acceptance
We know that you love your child, no matter what. But does your child know that? Does she know that you love her, accept her just as she is, respect her and her choices?
Give your child plenty of love even if you are not able to do it all the time. Your child needs to know that she is loved and accepted, regardless of her strengths and weaknesses. Unconditional love is the foundation that your child needs, to grow into a confident human being.
Most importantly, remember to respect the person that your child is.
[ Read: How To Motivate Your Child ]
2. Focus on strengths, deal with weaknesses
Nobody is perfect, including children. But to raise a confident child, you should not dwell too much on the shortcomings. Positive parenting focuses on developing what is good in the child, and making children feel empowered. If your child feels defeated by disappointments in life (poor academic performance, losing in a sport, etc.), help her look at the bright side by talking about her success.
This is not to say that you should ignore her mistakes. Help her learn from her mistakes but do focus on her achievements, to remind her that she can succeed if she wants to.
3. Don’t run to their rescue
It is natural for parents to feel protective about their children. You would be willing to do anything to keep your child from feeling disappointed, hurt, or defeated. But running to the child’s rescue every time they have a small problem is not a good idea because it prevents them from developing their problem-solving skills. A little bit of help now and then can be a good idea, but for the most part, let the child come up with solutions for her problems.
4. Let them make decisions
Decision making is an important life skill that the child needs to learn to be a confident individual. Decision making also empowers children as it gives them the ability to choose something. But children don’t have the maturity of an adult and may not know how to reach a decision all by themselves.
To make it easy for them, start by giving them two options and ask them to choose what they think is the best. For example, you can let your six-year-old girl decide what she wears to school as long as it is decent. But make it clear that she doesn’t get to decide if she wants to go to school or not.
By letting children make healthy choices, such as allowing them to pick their own clothes or deciding if they want their hair long or short, you are also teaching them to take responsibility for their decisions.
5. Encourage and nurture their special skills
Kids have special interests. Some like dance and music, while the others are natural artists. Find out what special talent or interest your child has and encourage them in developing it. If your boy or girl enjoys painting, you could send them to an art class. If they like sports, you could encourage them to try the school basketball team or softball team.
Developing what is already good in the child is excellent for building confidence in them.
6. Give them responsibility
One efficient way of building confidence in children is to give them little jobs that they can do. The fact that you can do something successfully, all by yourself, can be thrilling. When you complete a task without any struggle, your mind is all charged up and ready for another. So give your little one simple things to do around the house and praise them when they do it well.
For example, give your eight-year-old child the responsibility of feeding the dog every morning. And when she does that without being reminded, appreciate her.
7. Praise when they deserve it
It is easy to reprimand a child when she does something wrong. And, we never forget to do that. But when the child does something right, we don’t always praise her. We are not talking about praising the child for every little thing she does well. But if the child has put in the effort and achieved something, or even managed to do something right for a specific period, appreciate it.
For example, if the child has remembered to feed the dog every day for over a week or two, without being reminded of it, appreciate her efforts. Even a simple “good job” can go a long way into building your little one’s confidence.
8. Teach positive self-talk
Self-talk is the conversations we have with ourselves. In fact, it is the most important conversation we have in a day. What we tell ourselves every minute has a significant impact on our self-esteem and confidence. Our thoughts affect our emotions and also our potential successes. So if your child believes she can do something and tells herself that every day, the chances are that she will succeed in whatever she takes up.
Young children can be in control of themselves, and set themselves up for success by telling themselves positive things (1).
[ Read: Are You Teaching Kids Responsibility ]
9. Set them up for success with realistic goals
What is the best way to break a child’s confidence? Give them tasks they cannot do. Set them up with goals that they cannot achieve.
But if you want them to succeed in life and grow into healthy, confident adults, set them up with age-appropriate goals that they can achieve. Wanting to learn the piano is a goal, but wanting them to master it in a month is just not practical. The ideal goal would be to learn different notes and maybe come up with a small tune in a couple of months, with regular practice every week.
But if you ask the child to win competitions after a month of piano lessons, you are setting them up for failure and disappointment, not confidence.
10. Teach them to be independent and adventurous
A confident child is not afraid to try new things. It could be trying the new ice cream flavor, going on the new ride at the amusement park, or meeting new people at the art class or debate club. Whatever it is, encourage the child to try something new. At the same time, teach them to embrace risks that come with it. They may not enjoy the new ice cream flavor or like talking to the new kid in the dance class. But at least they tried.
Also, allowing the child to go to class picnics, science tours, and camping trips can develop their independent streak and teach them how to handle different situations without your help.
11. Let them embrace failure
No matter how hard you try and what you do, you cannot control your child’s wins and losses. Like everyone else, your child will experience failure, disappointment, hurt, and even criticism sometimes, and that is okay! Don’t just tell the child to “cheer up” or “get over it” when they are disappointed with their performance.
Teach your child to be resilient and embrace wins and losses equally. Tell her that it is okay to lose sometimes and that she can try and win the next time if she wants. She can learn from her current mistakes and be successful at the task the next time. The idea is to help children learn that setbacks are normal and it is always possible to find a way to succeed after failure.
12. Be a positive role model
Are you confident about yourself? Do you have doubts about your abilities? If yes, how can you expect your child to grow into a confident adult?
Children do as you do and not as you say. Deal with your insecurities and confidence issues and be a positive role model that your child can look up to.
13. Encourage them to express their feelings, emotions
A confident child can express his emotions or feelings comfortably, but does not get overly emotional or aggressive to vent out. Confidence is about being able to express feelings in a healthy way and also knowing when to stay calm.
Encourage your children to express their feelings by talking or writing and also teach them how to stay calm in a difficult situation. Let the child know that it is never good to bottle-up her feelings so much that she bursts out when faced with the smallest of challenges.
There are some simple and easy ways of encouraging your kids. And nothing is better than teaching through play. Below we list a few activities that can build confidence in your children.
[ Read: Positive Thinking In Kids ]
Confidence Building Activities For Kids
Activities and games offer a fun way to build your child’s confidence. Here, we have five simple yet effective confidence-building activities for kids.
1. This year’s accomplishments
Based on the point that you should focus on the positive, this activity encourages the child to recall all that she has achieved in the past year. This can be an excellent New Years’ Eve activity for youngsters.
You will need:
- A pen and paper
- Give the children a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.
- Give them 15 minutes each to list down all their accomplishments – big and small – on that sheet of paper.
- Once done, read them aloud with pride.
- If there are a group of children, ask the kids to fold the paper with their accomplishments and write their name on it.
- Put the folded papers in a bowl and pass around so that each kid picks a sheet.
- Each one reads aloud the accomplishments of the other while the others cheer for them.
2. Magic box
This is a creative way of boosting the child’s self-esteem and confidence.
You will need:
- A cardboard box
- A mirror
- Construct the magic box by placing the mirror inside it, such that anyone who peeks inside sees his or her image.
- Put the magic box in the center. Ask the kids, “Who do you think is the most special person in this world?”
- Wait for them to answer and tell them that the magic box will help them discover the most special person in the world.
- Ask the child who they think they will see in the box and then allow them to peek.
After the exercise, ask how the children felt after what they saw inside the box. An explanation that each one of us is special with our unique traits and a discussion about everyone’s unique aspects can follow this.
[ Read: Self Control In Kids ]
3. Managing things better (getting organized)
This activity aims at helping the child focus on her goals and organize things to achieve her school assignments effortlessly.
You will need:
- A sheet of paper
- Determine how far ahead you want to plan your goals – daily, weekly, or monthly.
- Prepare a table with four columns, one each for Subject, Assignment/task, Due Date, and Date Completed.
- Stick this on the fridge or the kid’s bedroom wall.
- Fill the sheet every time the child has to complete an assignment and has a deadline to do it.
- Check the assignment once it is done.
The sheet allows the child to keep track of her progress and the duration it took her to complete it. You could make it more exciting by giving the child a star or a smiley every time she finishes the task on or before time.
4. Get things done (don’t wait too long)
When you are not very confident about something, you tend to postpone doing it. But the more you postpone it, the more you doubt you can do it.
You will need:
- A sheet of paper
- This activity can be used to bring a change in the child’s goals, grades, or even habits.
- Create a table with two columns – Changes I want to make and Steps I have to take to make the change.
- Ask the kid to write down what she wants to change and what she needs to do for that change. And then, help the kid take those steps as soon as it is feasible.
5. Same letter, different name
This is a fun game that can encourage your kid to give a positive description of themselves. The game can be played by two or more people.
You will need:
- Space and time to play
- One person says ‘start’, and the child starts reciting the alphabet in her mind. When the person says stop, she stops at whatever letter she has reached.
- The child must then come up with as many positive words about herself as she can with that letter.
This is a simple game that can encourage the child to think about all that is good about herself and boost her confidence.
[ Read: Encouragement Quotes For Kids ]
6. Move to the music
Dancing is fun. But some kids are shy, and others don’t want to dance because they think they’re not good. Well, this activity can challenge such thinking.
You will need:
- Peppy, kid-friendly music
- A makeshift dance floor or a safe space to dance
- Play the music.
- Ask the kids to come on to the dance floor and just move their bodies according to the music.
- It doesn’t matter how they do it or if it is silly. Even if they just want to jump, let them do it.
Remember that the aim is to bring the child to the dance floor and move. Even if it is for a couple of minutes, appreciate his effort to dance, despite his fears.
7. Get creative
Another way to build the child’s confidence is to encourage them to try something creative. We have picked an activity with storytelling.
You will need:
- Space to play
- Sit in a group and pick a theme. Let the child choose a topic.
- Encourage her to open the story if she can. Otherwise, you open the story and ask the child to build it from there.
- Encourage the child to get creative, use her imagination to weave the story any way she wants. Let her know that it doesn’t have to be real because it is ‘her’ story and she can have anyone she wants in it.
No matter what the story is, appreciate the effort that the child has put in. This activity will also give you an insight into the child’s thought process.
In addition to these, you can also try role playing games, timed activities, and team building games to encourage your child to do whatever she can, confidently. That said, your child won’t become the confident person you want her to be overnight. It is a work in progress that will need you to be patient and supportive of the child to get the desired results.
[ Read: Inspirational Stories For Kids ]
Do you have any tips on how to build self confidence in a child? Share them with us in the comments section.
- Healthy Habits For Kids To Teach
- Ways To Discipline Your Child
- Ten Ways To Deal With A Stubborn Child
- Child Behavioral Problems And Solutions