7 TIPS FOR BUILDING YOUR CHILD'S CONFIDENCE
Helping build children’s confidence is a big area of focus for us at Resilience in Kids, and the question “How can I build my child’s confidence?” is one that parents ask us regularly. Most of us would agree that being confident is preferable to being unconfident. But why is this and what is the relationship between confidence and resilience? And how do we build children’s confidence – isn’t this something they either have or they don’t?
Confident children and adults tend to do better in life. They are more likely to step up and put themselves into challenging situations and are also more likely to respond resiliently when the going gets tough. They are also more likely to feel better about themselves, as they are less likely to be negatively affected by the self-doubt and uncertainty that can plague so many of those who tend towards lower levels of confidence.
We all know kids who seem to have been born oozing confidence from every pore – maybe we were one of them ourselves or remember feeling intimidated by one when we were growing up. Perhaps we have one living with us in our house! However, we also know kids who struggle with confidence, and even the confidence of those seemingly naturally confident kids can take a knock sometimes.
We’ve also all seen those kids who lacked confidence but whose confidence developed over time and who ended up blossoming as they grew into fully contributing members of society. The good news is there are things we can do as parents to help build children’s confidence.
So, what are some of these things? As with all resilience building work, this is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Encourage your child’s independence. Keep an eye on their developmental milestones so you know what they are capable of and when – a 4-year old can unstack the dishwasher and an 8-year old can make their own lunch. Coach them before they take on a task and then step back and let them get on with it. Avoid stepping in unless you absolutely have to. Let them figure out their own way of doing things and allow them to make mistakes and fail – this is all great learning!
Give your child responsibilities the rest of the family depends on. Parents often lament how hard it can be to encourage their child to do things like make their bed or pull their curtains. If this is important to you, stick with it. However, throw into the mix some chores that the family depends upon, such as unstacking the dishwasher – if they don’t do it there are no plates or bowls for breakfast!
Teach your child how to solve problems for themselves. Teach them a simple approach – one that works for us is for the child to brainstorm all the potential solutions to a problem, think about the pros and cons of each and then pick the best. They will need to make sure their solution is safe and doesn’t involve any rules being broken! You can contribute to the brainstorming but let your child come up with the solution – and experience the consequences of this
Spend quality time connecting with your kids – at Resilience in Kids we talk about connection being your superpower! Make sure they know they are special, valuable and unique, that you love them unconditionally and that they deserve to feel good about themselves. You don’t have to do anything super amazing with them, just chat with them, build a Lego tower or go for a walk – kids spell love TIME. As part of this, give them special tasks to do – kids love this
Speak with your kids about what their strengths are and encourage them to spend time focusing on these. Remember, their strengths don’t have to be the big and obvious like chess or soccer, they can also be quiet and hidden away like being a good listener or a trustworthy friend. Teach them the difference between strengths (things we are good at and love doing) and skills (things we are good at but don’t necessarily love doing). Kids don’t have to be good at everything
Teach them about the inner voice. Explain that this is automatic and subtle – we often don’t notice it’s there! Sometimes our inner voice can say really mean things to us, meaner than we would ever say to a friend. Help them catch these thoughts and then teach them to reframe – “I can’t do it” becomes “I will be able to do it if I practise”. Teach them the power of positive affirmations – they can become their own cheer squad! Affirmations are positive “I” statements, such as “I am brave”. Encourage them to avoid “I can’t, I have to, or I should” statements
Teach them that there are things they can do to make themselves feel better about who they are. These will vary depending on each child, but there are some consistent self-care hacks they can all employ – exercise, healthy food, quality time with loved ones, plenty of down-time and enough sleep
Create a self-care box with your child, containing all the things that make them feel good about themselves
Teach your child something new! Maybe it’s how to make a bolognese sauce or how to touch type. Stand back and let them practise and experiment by themselves