A healthy dose of confidence is vital to a child’s social and emotional development. A positive sense of self-worth is also critical to learning and academic success.
Confident people are usually authentic and express themselves and their opinions freely when the situation warrants it. Confidence generally leads to a happy and fulfilling life which is what we ultimately seek for our children. A lack of confidence can be symptomatic of anxiety and depression and so needs to be managed carefully.
A lack of confidence can have a negative effect on self-esteem and can be emotionally and physically crippling. Signs that a child could be underconfident are:
- Withdrawal and avoidance
- Speaking quietly or mumbling or overcompensating by shouting
- Negative thoughts.
To overcome a lack of assurance, here are seven tips to build your child’s confidence.
1. Encourage your child to smile
Often underconfident children can struggle to greet people verbally, especially strangers. While this can sometimes be uncomfortable for parents, it is very normal behaviour for young children. Rather than making your child greet a person verbally, you could instead encourage your child to smile. Greeting people with a smile can signal confidence to others. Simply the act of smiling can also improve mood which has a positive effect on confidence and self-worth.
2. Help someone else
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Often the best way for children to truly understand a topic is for them to explain it to someone else. Students who are tasked with helping other students will often have excellent academic success. Helping others can improve self-worth and make your child feel better about himself. Quite apart from academics, children benefit greatly by being helpful. Giving children tasks in the classroom and chores at home can go a long way toward building confidence.
3. Goal setting
Failure is a natural part of life and it’s important that children are taught to experience, accept and acknowledge it. Learning to overcome failure by setting goals that will help a child improve, can build confidence. Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals gives your child a chance to succeed one step at a time. Achievable goals such as reading five pages aloud each night or solving three extra mathematics problems, will have profound academic and emotional benefits.
4. Promote independent thought and problem-solving
It’s important that children are allowed to think for themselves and solve their own problems. Next time your child comes to you for help solving a problem, consider asking open ended questions that will allow him to express his own ideas and opinions to come to a resolution. Good questions to ask include, “Why do you think …?”, “What can you do about it?”, “How can you do it another way?”
5. Provide honest and constructive feedback
Balancing praise and honesty is key when providing feedback to children. Feedback, both positive and critical, is vital to a child’s intellectual and social development. However, too much criticism can have a negative effect on a child’s self-esteem. Similarly, overcompensating with unnecessary praise can reduce the value of actions and other successes. Negative feedback needs to be constructive so that your child can learn from it and develop intellectually and socially.
6. Encourage decision-making
Children need to learn how to make choices to improve their decision-making skills and develop confidence as they grow. For young children, it is recommended that you limit choices to two or three options so that the experience is not too overwhelming. As children grow, you can talk about decisions you have made as part of everyday life, how you have approached them and the steps you took to determine the best course of action. To support children in their decision-making, ask thought-provoking questions that prompt them to think about their reasoning and any potential consequences. Some helpful questions include, “What makes this the best choice?”, “What do you like about this option?”, “How would that work?”.
7. Play to your child’s strengths
Every child has the potential to be good at something. Expose your child to a wide range of activities to allow him to find something he is truly passionate about. Children with a passion can feel proud of their proficiency and are more likely to be successful in other areas of their life. Celebrating your child’s strengths among family and peers is also a great confidence booster.
For over a hundred years Trinity Grammar School has educated boys in mind, body and spirit. Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture each student to help him realise his potential, passion and purpose in life.
Trinity is a non-selective school that aims to provide the best environment for boys from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 to flourish and succeed. For more tips on how to build your child’s self-esteem, visit our blog or sign up to our newsletter to discover why we’re one of Sydney’s top boys’ schools.