Learning and Development: How To Build A Child’s Confidence

It cannot be overstated how critically important confidence is to a children’s learning and development, not to mention future health, success, and happiness. Children full of confidence are far better equipped to deal with all the trials and tribulations life might throw their way – peer pressure, challenges both inside and outside of the classroom, responsibility, and the whole gamut of childhood emotions, to name but a few. But what is the most important cog in the mechanism known as ‘confidence’?

That’s right adults; it’s YOU! 

Parents and teachers play a hugely pivotal role in building and fostering confidence in children. The question is, how can you achieve this? From the outset, it may seem a challenging task. After all, building confidence isn’t something that can be achieved overnight nor with complete ease. However, it’s actually a lot more straightforward than you’d first imagine; there’s nothing complicated or intimidating about building confidence in a child – just perseverance and patience. In fact, you can actually make it something enjoyable by doing what parents and teachers do best – making learning and development lots of fun!

Here are 24 strategies to starting building your child or student’s confidence from here on in.

24 Ways To Build Confidence in Children

#1 – Unconditional Love

It’s likely that your child won’t have heard the phrase “unconditional loves” means, let alone understand what it really means. However, that doesn’t matter; what matters is your child feeling your unconditional love every single day; through thick and thin, up and downs, no matter what is happening. The way we, as parents or teachers, view children, has a far-reaching impact on the way they view themselves. Therefore, it is vital to make it clear to them that you both love and care for them, even when they make poor decisions or mistakes. Avoid sternly criticising and shaming them where possible. 

#2 – Positive Affirmations

Many child lack confidence, which is typically characterised by their insistence that they’re bad at everything and can’t do anything. Do the phrases “I’m terrible at doing….” or “I can’t do….” sound familiar? This comes down to two things: lack of experience and lack of confidence. Learning and development are centred around experience and confidence, and they often go hand-in-hand; therefore, it’s absolutely essential to instil a positive mindset in your child or student through the use of positive affirmations. 

#3 – Use Their Name

Ok, this is one that will no doubt raise a few eyebrows amongst those reading this article, but using a child’s name to address them is even more potent than you’d first imagine. Addressing your child by name is a compelling way to show them that they’re important, particularly when combined with friendly and loving eye contact. This may seem like a simple thing that is done several times a day (if not more), but really focussing on using their name as much as you possibly can in a direct, yet friendly way can work wonders on confidence.

#4 – Special Tasks

Assigning children classroom jobs and chores is a great way to help them develop and get them involved in everyday life, but giving them “special tasks” can help them to feel even more responsible and useful. By adding the word “special” to these tasks it can give a bigger boost in confidence (make sure you emphasis the word “special”!). Although there an almost infinite number of what “special tasks” can be, here are a few examples:

Helping siblings with chores or homework; assisting with the family pets; being your “sous chef” when you’re preparing meals; helping tidying up the house; putting clothes away etc.

#5 – Playtime Is Important

If there’s one part of life that kids love the most; it’s playtime. However, if you join in with their playtime, it shows them just how important they are, because you’re taking time out of your day to spend it with them. When joining in with their playtime, always allow your child to lead by encouraging them to choose which games and activities you play. By doing this – and showing them how much you’re enjoying yourself – your little one will not only have even more fun but also feel valued and as if they have achieved something. 

#6 – Your Confidence

A child’s parents are their first and often best role models; therefore, it’s vitally important to work on being a better person and boosting your own confidence levels if they’re not a the level you’d like them to be. Of course, this isn’t something that can be achieved in a matter of days, but dedicating a small amount of time each day will help to build your confidence levels gradually. If you’re unsure where to start, we suggest beginning by saying positive things about yourself and other people in the presence of your child (self-criticism should be avoided). Always focus on the positives and be constructive – even when mistakes are made, or things go wrong.

#7 – Ask For Their Opinion

Asking for a child’s advice or option on age-appropriate situations will let them know that you value both them and their ideas, thoughts, and opinions. Furthermore, by asking a child for their opinion or help, it also demonstrates to them that even adults need assistance sometimes and that it’s completely ok to ask for advice if you need it. As a child, my dad would always ask me to help wash the car and, when we’d finished, he’d ask me if I thought it was clean enough. This made me feel valued and rather special!

#8 – Spend Quality Time Together

This is a no-brainer as far a parent-child relationship goes, but it goes so much deeper than just spending time together. Being loved and accepted are two critical ingredients of self-worth and confidence; therefore, as a parent, it is essential to spend time with your child to show them how loved and valued they are. Do anything and everything with your child; take them out for adventures, eat dinner together, play sports or games, go and play in the garden, indulge in activities that they love…the list is endless! But it doesn’t stop there; always ask how they are, how school went, how they’re feeling etc. Consistently feeling valued will induce a serious confidence boost.

#9 – Goal Setting

As adults, we’re actually aware of how important goal setting is; therefore, it’s a wise idea to instil this concept in your little one. Setting and achieving realistic yet challenging goals can help a child feel more accomplished and capable, so by helping them to understand the nature of realistic goal setting, you’ll provide them with the tools to set their own goals, which makes the feeling of achievement even greater! Of course, it’s likely that a child might choose goals that are a little too much for them but try to find the right balance between positivity and realism.

#10 – Pure, Unadulterated Attention

Children are often far more mature and aware than we expect or give them credit for. If you’re spending time with them, yet something is on your mind, or you’re not giving your little one your complete, unadulterated attention, they’ll know. To stop this from happening, always set aside a set amount of time every day or several times per week where it just your child and you together. No TV. No electronic devices. No distractions. 100% focus on your child and spending quality time together. 

#11 – Theatre/Acting Classes

As a child I was terrified of public speaking, acting, doing things in front of others, but it wasn’t until I was forced into situations like this at school that I really began to blossom. Trying new things can really help to build confidence as it puts a child out of their comfort zone and forces them to adapt quickly to new people and surroundings. Of course, this does sound a little brutal, and you should never force your child to do something they’re really not keen on, but you should encourage them to give new hobbies, sports, actives a go. The main reason most children are so reluctant to try new things is that they don’t have confidence. Their natural mindset will be “I can’t do that” or “I’ll be terrible at that”, so if they do try something new and realise they can do it, it’ll boost their confidence massively, not to mention instilling a positive mindset with regard to new activities.

#12 – Praise them…But In The Right Way

Showering a child with praise isn’t an effective way to build true confidence. Still, training children in the correction fashion can undoubtedly have a positive effect on their feelings of self-worth and levels of self-esteem. Try to give your child praise that is both genuine and specific, and focuses more on effort and hard work, rather than on specific results (such as getting certain marks in their exams) or on abilities that are fixed (such as intelligence). It’s too easy just to tell your child they did a “great job” when praising them. Instead, opt for more detailed and specific praise, dedicated to whatever they have done.

#13 – Speak Positively About Them To Others (and make sure they overhear)

“Accidentally” allowing your little one to hear you say positive things about them to other people is a surefire way to give their confidence in the right direction. If they’ve done well at school or in sports, or have just been making a real effort to be helpful around the house, make sure they know about it. Of course, you should tell them they’re doing well, but when on the phone to friends or relatives be sure to tell them how well your child is doing when your little one is in earshot. Children can sometimes be unsure when we heap praise on them, but hearing you say it when you’re speaking to someone else will cement the praise and help them to believe it more readily.

#14 – Never Compare To Others

Comparing your child to other children is one of the cardinal sins of parenting. Unfortunately, this type of behaviour is prevalent amongst many parents, so you must do your utmost to avoid comparing your child to someone else – including their siblings. Comparisons give rise to doubt, which, in turn, may decrease confidence levels. If a child doubts themselves, they may adopt that they’ll never live up to your expectations, which will reduce confidence levels even further.

#15 – Showcase Their Work

If there’s one thing synonymous with young children’s art, it’s having drawings stuck on the fridge for all and sundry to see! Well, this piece of advice isn’t all that different from that. Even something as simple as hanging photos of your child, your family, or even their artwork can go a long way to boosting your child’s confidence. Seeing pictures of themselves either alone or with other members of your family will help them to feel as if they ‘belong’ and are valued, whereas seeing artwork they’ve created around the house will fill them with pride and confidence. Doing things like this will instil a sense of acceptance, love, and belonging – three feelings essential for fostering confidence.

#16 – Age-Appropriate Choices

Akin to “special tasks” and chores, allowing children to make age-appropriate choices will help to facilitate feelings of empowerment, competence, and confidence. For example, let them make decisions about what they want to wear, what they want to eat for breakfast, what book to read, what games to play, what chores they’d like to do, where they go for an outdoor adventure…the options are endless! Finding a balance between furnishing them with enough freedom to build confidence and not allowing them to have too much freedom is challenging. Still, as with pretty much everything else related to parenting, carefully thought our trial and error is the way forward.

#17 – Encourage New Skills & Experiences 

A child who is devoid of confidence will be reluctant to try new things and build new skills; in fact, any human, regardless of their age, will refrain from dipping their toes into new experiences if they lack confidence. To give your child a nudge in the right direction, it’s vital to encourage them to give things a go, even if they’re feeling unsure, nervous, anxious, or even a little bit scared. You can do this by speaking to them in a positive fashion, as well as by leading for example and trying new things yourself. Talk to them about your own childhood and the times you felt nervous about doing new things, and how it was never as bad as you thought it would be.

#18 – Help Them Unearth Their Passions, Interest & Hobbies

While there is no doubt that trying new things will have a positive impact on a child’s confidence, the same can be said for doing things they’re good at or just love to do. The problem is, given their lack of worldly experience, many youngsters aren’t sure where their passions and interest lie. Therefore, it’s wise to introduce your child to as many interest, activities, hobbies, and sports as possible, as they’ll inevitably discover things they absolutely love to do! When children excel at something, their confidence and feelings are self-worth will proliferate, so do all you can to promote these feelings by helping them discover who they are and where their passions lie.

#19 – Fear of Failure

Fear of failure stops even the most strong-willed and resolute for adults in their tracks, so imagine how it makes young children feel…! Fear of failing will prevent children from reaching their potential, which, in turn, may adversely impact their confidence levels. Although overcoming fear of failure is by no means an easy and straightforward task, progress can be made by merely explaining to your child that not succeeding is perfectly normal and that everyone fails at something, no matter how successful they are. Let them know that life is full of setbacks, challenges, and down days, but that doesn’t mean they should give up or not try in the first place, because achievements can’t be attained without trying.

#20 – Express Their Feelings

Emotional expression is one of the core components of human development; therefore, it’s crucial to tell your child it’s ok to express their feelings, no matter what’s going inside their head. If you overlook or criticise your child, they may feel that their emotions are important and that they don’t matter to you. Encourage your little ones to express their feelings, be they positive or negative. Talking about how we feel is such a huge part of human life; therefore, it’s so vitally important to encourage freedom of expression from a young age. 

#21 – Distinguish Between Them and Their Choices

It’s inevitable that you’ll get upset with your child at some point during their childhood. There will be times when you’ll feel the need to offer them constructive criticism and discuss how their choices and actions have consequences. When doing this, always remember to make it abundantly clear that it’s their choices that you’re unhappy with, not with them as a person. All criticism should be directed towards actions rather than the child. This is often easier said than done given how difficult arguments with children can be, but wherever possible, you must remain calm and focus on their actions. 

#22 – Surround Them With Positivity 

In the same way that negativity breeds negativity – positivity breeds positivity and this something that should be at the heart of family life. Surrounding a child with positive people, friends, family members, and the like, will increase the likelihood of them becoming a positive person too. It is crucial for parents to be strong role models for their children; therefore, providing a positive environment for your child is one of the best things you can give them. By positive, be uplifting, focus on happiness…and so on, and so forth. 

#23 – Recognise Their Achievements 

Celebrating your child’s achievements and successes is a surefire way to make them feel good about themselves and boost their confidence levels. How you do this is entirely up to you, but always take your child’s feelings into account as some youngsters don’t like the fuss and get embarrassed if their achievements are celebrated too much! Showing them, you want to showcase their work will make them feel a million dollars, even if they’re not too keen on having it show to all and sundry. 

#24 – Physical Affection

Don’t be afraid to shower your child with physical affection from time to time. Like praise, appropriately timed physical affection can work wonders on their confidence and show them just how much you love, care, and appreciate them. Physical affection can take any form – it just depends on what your child is cool with. Some don’t mind hugs and kisses, whereas others would prefer a high five and a pat on the back!

How To Build A Child’s Confidence: A Summary

Confidence sculpts a child’s life immensely, and it is, by far and away, one of the most precious fits parents, teachers, and caregivers can give to their little ones.

If you’re a little unsure as to where to begin, try choosing a few strategies from the above list and implement them into your daily or weekly routine straight away. Once you’ve got the hang of a handful of the above methods, try introducing a few more, gradually increasing them until you’re doing as many as you possibly can! But don’t just stop at the above list; there are so many different ways to boost your child’s confidence, so always be on the lookout for ways to give their self-worth and happiness a nudge in the right direction. 

Remember, with unwavering complete support; your children will develop into confident, happy, and successful individuals.