As parents, we all know how important it is for a child to be confident. As much as possible, we want our kids to have faith in their abilities. We want them to feel assured and secure in their own self-worth.
A child that is truly confident is set for future happiness, health, and success. They’re better equipped to deal with challenges and problems. They’re less likely to sabotage themselves – or others – out of frustration or peer pressure.
They’re more likely to be attentive, adaptive, and just generally more responsible.
That being said, the pressure on us – as the parents, teachers, and guardians – is pretty real. We are one of the key factors in developing a child’s confidence. Kids will look to the people they trust for guidance and reassurance.
So with all that in mind, here are seven tips on how to build confidence in kids.
1. Join in Their Playtime (And Let Them Pick The Games)
When your kid asks you to join them for a game, accept the invite! This lets them know that their playtime is valid and worthy of your time. As they grow older, this will encourage them to take the initiative to invite people to events that they have organized.
Plus, it’s a great way to bond with them!
Professionals also stress how important it is to allow children to choose the activity and carry it out. They advise against discouraging or suggesting games for the child unless they truly ask for it, as this can lead to them feeling like their choices are “wrong” or “inappropriate.”
If they want to play with LEGOs for the ninetieth time, it’s okay. If they want to try a computer game, it’s alright. If they want to play tea parties with their dolls, that’s their prerogative.
This goes for teachers as well. Give your students a chance to pick activities or initiate a game for the whole class. This can make the child feel valuable and accomplished.
2. Encourage Constant, Consistent Practice
Whatever hobby, game, or activity your child shows interest in, encourage them to keep practicing! If they seem to enjoy swimming, ask them if they’d like weekend classes. If they show an affinity for the kitchen, see if they’d like to try an Easy-Bake Oven.
If they express interest in computer programming or coding, see if there are supplementary lessons for them to enroll in.
Wholeheartedly supporting your child’s desire to get better at something can make them feel secure in their decision to pursue their goals. Plus, their confidence will definitely skyrocket once they notice their own improvement.
But make sure you don’t go overboard!
Pressuring them to keep practicing when they don’t want to may have the opposite effect. They may end up tying their self-worth to their craft. This can lead to dangerous beliefs that they’re only worthy of praise when they’re successful.
3. Get Them Into STEM
This may seem a bit too specific for a general recommendation, but STEM (particularly coding, engineering, and robotics) is a great way to boost their confidence. Here’s why:
Coding is all about problem-solving. If you’re familiar with the fundamentals of coding, you’ll realize that it greatly utilizes logic, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Codes are basically solutions that were conceptualized and then created.
Problem-solving is an important life skill that your kids will definitely need as they get older. No matter what situation you find yourself in, the ability to react, adapt, and overcome adversity in order to arrive at a viable resolution is necessary. The earlier kids start honing and developing this skill, the better.
In fact, experts actually discourage parents from helping kids solve their problems. Once kids are accustomed to letting someone else deal with difficult situations, they’ll never develop the confidence they need to help themselves. They’ll instead learn to rely on someone else whenever they’re in a tight spot because they have no faith in their own abilities.
As you can imagine, this is not conducive to improving a child’s sense of self-worth at all.
Let’s backtrack; what does this all have to do with coding for kids?
Coding can improve a child’s problem-solving skills because when they’re coding, they are constantly having to problem solve. And, as we mentioned earlier, consistent practice can lead to improvement. So the more kids code, the more they get used to solving problems. The more they get used to problem-solving, the better they’ll be at it.
And the good thing about solving programming problems? It doesn’t compromise anyone’s safety or situation in real life. So kids can keep doing it without the risk of repercussions.
Confident kids are kids who are not afraid to face challenges head-on. Solving their own problems will make them feel strong, independent, and capable. And every time they get it right, they’ll feel bolstered to keep going. This is true for both coding and real-life situations.
4. Celebrate Effort, Not Just Success
This ties in a bit with our second point. Once your child has picked up a hobby, craft, or activity that they like, they will eventually encounter failure in that field. A drawing that their classmates made fun of because they didn’t understand it. A LEGO set that they just can’t seem to put together. Failing to block the other team’s winning goal.
Regardless of the intensity, no one likes failing.
But if you equate a child’s victories to his/her worth, their confidence will take a hit. They’ll be afraid to try because trying does not guarantee them success.
Nurture a child’s confidence by appreciating their effort as well. If they learn to pick themselves up regardless of how many times they fell, you’ve done well. The resilience they’ll build up will complement their confidence wonderfully.
5. Gently Point Out Areas of Improvement
On that note, a little honest critique isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can help a child focus on areas that they need to improve. Coddling a child when it comes to their mistakes or telling them that they “just need to try harder” isn’t conducive to building confidence.
In certain situations, a lack of concrete critique may foster uncertainty in a child regarding their skills since they don’t have a tangible goal to work towards.
Excessive praise, on the other hand, will also cause them to grow complacent in their abilities and, thus, never strive for improvement.
Find the perfect middle ground and gently tell them how and where they can improve. If they’re aspiring programmers, do they keep missing bugs in their codes? Then they need to be more careful during debugging. If they like drawing and coloring, do they stay within the lines? Maybe they need to practice precision and cleanliness. If they’re into sports, how’s their endurance? If they’re getting winded too easily, it may be time to work on cardio.
Specific suggestions can be broken down into attainable steps. These attainable steps are tangible goals that kids can work towards. Generic advice such as, “just do better,” is too vague to provide realistic objectives.
6. Find Opportunities to Challenge Them
Think of challenges as chances for your child to shine. Whether they be team sports, outdoor activities, music lessons, or whatever, challenges help them realize that every obstacle they overcome is an opportunity to improve. Accomplishing different tasks will often result in favorable rewards or achievements. Prizes aren’t given when you aren’t doing anything.
- Coding for Kids: The Ultimate Guide for Parents [Updated 2021]
- Coding for Kids: Here’s What Some Very Smart People Have to Say About It
7. Do Not Create Shortcuts or Exceptions for Your Child
Because they’re your child, you may be tempted to give your kids special treatment. Little things like asking for a deadline extension or requesting for a “simpler” task may be done in good faith, but they’re actually damaging your child’s confidence. Trying to make things easier for them basically tells them you – as their parent or teacher – don’t believe they’re capable of certain tasks. This lack of faith from an authority figure can cause them to doubt their own abilities, too. It may also instill a false sense of entitlement, wherein they believe they’re owed something no one else is.
You need to let your child experience all the ups and downs of a situation, regardless of how tempting it may be to help them.
Those were our seven tips on how to build confidence in kids. To recap:
- Join in Their Playtime
- Encourage Constant, Consistent Practice
- Get Them Into Coding
- Celebrate Effort, Not Just Success
- Gently Point Out Areas of Improvement
- Find Opportunities to Challenge Them
- Do Not Create Shortcuts or Exceptions for Your Child
Kids are born with the ability to soak everything up, like a sponge. They are capable of learning new skills, new words, and new concepts at a dizzying rate. And as they learn these abilities, their sense of self-worth grows as well. In order for kids to succeed in literally all areas of life, they must be confident.
They must have a genuine understanding of what they can and can’t do, and they must know how to push forward regardless of doubts and/or anxieties. Don’t get us wrong; that’s a tall order! After all, if everyone had it down to a science, then we’d all be confident. But that isn’t realistic and it just isn’t the case. Thankfully, sometimes doing your best for your kids is more than enough.