How to boost your child’s confidence

Confidence is an important building block of life. Children who are confident are more likely to:

succeed at school – and later in their careers

make good friends

challenge themselves.

By nurturing your child’s sense of confidence, you set them up for a happy and successful life. Unique personalities, gender, and varying interests mean that self-confidence doesn’t necessarily look the same in everybody of course – but there are some universal ways to help instil it in your child. Here are our eight top tips.

1. Get them out of their comfort zone

The less your child tries new things, the scarier a concept it will seem. Praise them for taking risks and pushing themselves – whether that be raising their hand in lessons or doing a social activity with classmates. However, it’s important to know your child’s limits in terms of what will help and what will be too overwhelming for them: depending on your child’s personality, baby steps may be a better approach then throwing them in at the deep end!

2. Use optimistic language

If your child finds something difficult or intimidating, it can be tempting to agree with them as a way of empathising, but this can normalise a defeatist approach. Instead, say positive statements (such as “have a go and see if you can do it”) and teach your child to approach any obstacle with an optimistic, can-do attitude.

3. Teach positive body language

Body language is a powerful tool and can have a big impact on your child’s perception of themselves, as well as others’ perceptions of them. Even if they don’t feel especially confident in a situation, encourage them to stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile anyway. This “fake it ‘til you make it” approach will slowly ingrain true confidence in them

4. Foster curiosity and learning

A child who is curious about the world is more likely to engage with it, from which natural confidence will blossom. Being literate and articulate is another big booster for children’s confidence – 80% of secondary school teachers believe poor literacy has an impact on low self-esteem, whereas having a wide vocabulary enables self-expression and thus self-confidence, at school and beyond.

5. Be a confidence role model

A fear of failure can be a paralysing deterrent. It’s important to demonstrate that confidence doesn’t come from never failing and that, in fact, overcoming struggles and setbacks is often a better path to building self-confidence. Make sure that when your child does experience failure, the situation is put into perspective so that they don’t catastrophise it.

6. Practise breathing exercises

Whatever the scenario – perhaps before an exam, a sports game or public speaking – deep belly breaths have a naturally calming and stabilising effect. Having this technique up their sleeve for when they feel overwhelmed or stressed will help your child feel more in control of any situation.

7. Set realistic goals and celebrate achieving them

Whilst it’s great to encourage kids to shoot for the stars, it’s also important to recognise the smaller achievements. Unrealistic expectations can result in disappointment, which in turn knocks self-esteem and discourages trying again in the future. Feeling a regular sense of achievement, even if for more minor things, will build a great foundation of confidence in your child.

8. Encourage independence

As we discussed in our article on encouraging independent learning, a sense of independence is key to developing self-confidence. If you do the hard work for them, they won’t get the chance to develop both the ability and confidence to do it on their own.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to building confidence is that there’s no magic overnight fix. If your child struggles with confidence, be patient with them – if they feel like a failure that will only exacerbate the problem. Hopefully, with these steps and your support, they will learn the tools to feel confident and secure in themselves for life. 

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