How to Build Your Child’s Confidence
A sense of self-confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. A child who grows up believing he can succeed, that it is alright to fail and then try again, will take up many more challenges than children who lack belief in themselves or children who don’t trust that the world is a safe and secure place.
Confidence is defined as a belief or trust in your own abilities and judgment. Children begin to develop confidence from a very early age. Early positive experiences provide the foundation on which self-confidence is built.
Confidence comes with a sense of security. A child who feels safe and loved develops confidence naturally. When given the opportunity to explore, make mistakes and repeat activities over and over a child develops a sense of mastery and this automatically leads to confidence. When we rush the child, or step in to do it for him we are robbing him of the chance to further develop his confidence and sense of “I can do it”.
Celebrate each milestone, no matter how small. If your child truly believes that you think she can do it and that she is just wonderful then some of that will rub off and before long she will begin to believe it too.
Here are a few tips to help you ensure your child is given every chance to develop confidence in themselves.
- Avoid making comparisons: No-one likes to hear that someone else can do something better. Remember that children all develop at different rates and in different areas. Don’t worry about how they compare to their peers or siblings. Instead of saying: “Can’t you sit still at the table like your sister?” Try: “Wow, I think you have managed to sit on your bottom for almost the whole of dinner! Well done! Maybe tomorrow you’ll be able to get through the whole meal without getting up. What do you think?”
- Try not to undermine his ability: This is especially difficult when we are rushing to go out. It is very easy to say, “Here, why don’t I put your shoes on for you, we have to hurry!” In our busy lives we have to remember children take longer to do things than we do. It may be time saving and more efficient to assist them but it does not develop their independence or confidence in their own abilities.
- Establish and follow routines: Young children thrive on routine. It helps them to predict what will happen next. This enables them to make sense of their world and develop a sense of security. Once children become familiar with the routine they will become confident that they can order their lives themselves.
- Be consistent: Consistency is necessary to develop routines. Consistency in your behaviour and reactions is equally important in developing a confident child. If you are erratic and your reactions often depend on your emotional or physical state then children will take a longer time to develop confidence in what is expected of them and how their behaviour will be received.
- Encourage social interaction: Children who have been exposed to a number of social situations and are at ease when with other adults or peers will be more confident than a child who has had little interaction beyond the family circle. For some children a relaxed play date may seem a bit daunting and you may have to initiate games and role-play by being actively involved yourself. This is well worth it, as it will encourage the development of the social skills that are closely linked to confidence.
- Plan regular exposure to new situations: The more experiences and exposure to new situations you can give to your child the greater his confidence in the world will be. Plan lots of different activities you can do together so there will be no anxiety for your little one. The more positive the experiences the better!
- Spend quality time together: Take the time to really listen to and connect with your child. All too often we have our mobile in one hand and an eye on our email, even when we are pretending to be princesses locked away in a dungeon or when our children come to us with a sincere question. Without taking the time to really be present with our children we do not validate their opinions, ideas and thoughts. This is necessary for a child to begin to develop a sense of confidence in their self-worth.
A sense of confidence is nurtured by a loving family, by physical and emotional warmth and care. We all want what is best for our children and for them to grow up to be happy, confident adults. By talking and listening to our children we can get to know who they are, what their strengths and interests are and better understand their characters. By respecting their individuality and setting realistic goals for our children we can enable them to flourish by going from strength to strength.
Confidence comes from knowing we are loved and accepted for who we are, not only when we succeed but also when we stumble on that path to success and happiness.