Parent helping her kid build confidence

How to Help Kids Build Self-Confidence

The best way to understand how people benefit from having developed a strong sense of self-confidence is to imagine the struggles of someone who hasn’t. You probably know someone who never reached their full potential due to chronic self-doubt.

At the most basic level, self-confidence reduces the fear of failure and being overwhelmed by negative thoughts. It allows children to focus on the task at hand and improve their performance.

Believing that you’re capable of doing something can also be a good motivator. Children with higher levels of self-confidence will be more likely to persevere in the face of frustration. If they’re less likely to quit, they’re more likely to develop their skills and gain valuable experience.

Another way children benefit from being self-confident is improvement in their social status. Even as adults, we view confident behavior as something positive and admirable. It’s also one of the key characteristics that we associate with leaders.

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Nobel Explorers’ projects are a place where children can build healthy self-confidence through teamwork and overcome modern STEM challenges.

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Four Tips to Help Your Kids Build Self-Confidence

1. Praise Them Appropriately and Properly

If you believe in your child’s capabilities, they’ll learn to do so as well. Praise is just one way, but also very effective in communicating these feelings. A couple of things you should keep in mind, though.

As a parent, you soon learn that a kind word of praise brings a smile to your child’s face. However, you should never rely on it as a way of cheering them up when they’re down. Kids aren’t impressed by false praise and can usually spot it pretty easily. If they can tell your praise is inappropriate, it can hurt their self-confidence and self-esteem. Or worse, they’ll start buying into it and create a false sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that will only burn them in the long run.

Secondly, make sure you direct your praise at their approach and effort, rather than at their result. Getting an A is already a form of positive reinforcement and something they can get from their teacher or their peers. But teaching them the value of putting in the effort is something that will help them throughout their life.

2. Give Them Space to Be Independent

“It is confidence in our bodies, minds, and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures.” – Oprah Winfrey

When trying to encourage independence in children, practice is a must. Still, it’s easy to get carried away with micromanaging every aspect of their chores, school assignments, or even playtime. The main motivation behind these interventions is simple – we’re hard-wired to want the best for our kids. We want them to do the best they can and we feel obligated to step in.

Learning by doing is the optimal way to learn. So if we’re constantly stepping in, we’re denying our children the opportunity to build self-confidence and self-reliance.

The key is being able to set up your child with tasks they can handle themselves with little-to-no guidance. This approach is largely based on Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. It’s about finding the optimal balance between their feeling challenged and not being turned off the task by frustration or stress.

3. Teach Them Realistic Goal-Setting

As we already noted, positive reinforcement that builds self-confidence comes naturally with results. It comes from setting a certain goal and then being able to achieve it. That’s why it’s important that children learn to set goals that are attainable and realistic.

Dealing with unrealistic goals leads to disappointment, frustration, and a distorted image of their capabilities. By teaching them realistic goal-setting, we’re giving them the ability to set themselves up for success.

4. Encourage Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is a well-known technique for improving performance and it’s used by elite athletes from all fields. It’s proven to be effective through reducing anxiety but also by strengthening self-confidence.

Using positive self-talk to build confidence is indeed a clever technique, but it also has further benefits. It can do wonders for self-esteem and instill a more optimistic approach to life.

You and your child can practice together! This heartwarming clip from 2016 is the perfect example of a parent helping their child build confidence through morning affirmations and positive self-talk.

A Crucial Mistake to Avoid When Helping Children Build Self-Confidence

“Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

We tend to fall into certain traps when we’re trying to help our children become more self-confident. Truth be told, we usually do so with the best of intentions. Still, the end result can be vastly different from the one we’re trying to encourage.

Parental anxiety is a heavy burden but it shouldn’t be eased through helicopter parenting. Overprotective parenting can seriously stunt the emotional development of a child. We’re not talking about reasonable impulses to protect your child from harm and suffering. This is about an overbearing approach that involves removing your kids from situations that cause them even the slightest discomfort. By protecting them from all kinds of frustration, sadness, and disappointment, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to develop resilience. You’re also fostering a sense of dependence, which directly clashes with their ability to build self-confidence.

Although they’re different concepts, resilience and self-confidence complement each other splendidly. Together, they create a perfect foundation for your child’s growth and development. They’ll know how to endure setbacks while being able to keep a clear head when they try again.

If you’d like to learn more about dealing with parental anxiety, you can always schedule a free consultation with one of our Coaches! They’ll share everything you need to know and help you avoid falling into the trap of becoming a helicopter parent.

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