Figuring out how to build self-confidence in a child or teenager is no easy task. Children are incredibly impressionable, and as a parent it’s often difficult to decide whether to be firm, more relaxed, hands-on, or laissez-faire.
To learn how to build confidence in kids, the first step is to understand that self-doubt, fear, and discouragement are the polar opposite – and if your child or teenager is filled with these feelings, they’re much more likely to struggle with self-esteem. With this as a starting point, let’s take a look at how you as a parent can make sure your child is as free as they can be from self-doubt, anxiety, and low-self-esteem – and in turn, how you can encourage self-confidence!
Always applaud their efforts
It doesn’t matter if they succeed – a key part of learning how to build self-confidence in a child is to applaud them simply for trying. When trying is rewarded, regardless of the outcome, we feel much more confident in our subsequent attempts.
Encourage them to practise at their hobbies
Being genuinely good at things is an incredibly rewarding feeling and breeds confidence naturally. Whether it’s sport, art, music, or something completely different, encourage your child’s efforts to improve. As they do, so too will their self-confidence.
Give them autonomy to figure out problems
When your child or teen gets stuck on a problem – whether it’s their homework, or something around the house, don’t immediately swoop in to save the day. Instead, hang back and observe.
Nurture their curiosity
Curious natures go far in life – they enquire about the world around them, and the journey of seeking this knowledge often leads to an independent and headstrong nature. So, when they have questions, indulge them, and then encourage more questions!
Help them conquer new challenges
This doesn’t mean you hand a backpack to them and march them up the nearest mountain. A new challenge could be something as simple as tidying their room, mending a broken item, helping build a campfire, reading a new book – anything. The important thing is to help your child’s comfort zone grow by encouraging them to step outside of it.
Offer constructive feedback instead of criticism
Criticising your child or teen when they fail at a task can, over time, cause them to withdraw and stop trying new tasks, instead preferring to take the safer route of not trying at all. In order to help them grow up to be confident, offer supportive, constructive feedback instead. Every mistake is a teaching opportunity.
Introduce them to new experiences
New experiences help us grow, whether that involves new places, new people, new cultures, or new hobbies. By introducing them to a broad range of experiences from a young age, you can help your child to feel comfortable in a wide range of scenarios and to become familiar and comfortable with feelings of uncertainty, which can in turn build confidence.
Don’t shower them with worried thoughts
You’re a parent – of course you worry. Try to keep the majority of these worries internal, however. If repeated out loud too often, your child may take these worries and expressions of concern as a sign you don’t believe in them, and don’t have confidence in their abilities yourself. Before long, your child’s perception of their abilities may drop too.
Don’t get upset about your own mistakes
Children learn a lot just from watching and imitating. If you spend a large amount of your time despairing over your own mistakes, you risk instilling your children with a deep fear of failure. This fear of failing can, in turn, lead to an unwillingness to try to avoid this. If you make a mistake at home, try to keep your reaction in proportion, and show your child that there’s nothing to fear from trying and failing.
While praise and affection and positive affirmations are brilliant, too much praise can cause a child to become complacent, or incurious. If you’re letting off fireworks every time they put on their socks, reining in the praise might help your child build self-confidence.
Take a step back
A confident person is one who has faith in their own abilities and believes firmly in their capabilities. In order for a child to grow in confidence, they need to have room to figure things out for themselves, make mistakes, and stand on their own two feet. Don’t be afraid to take a backseat at times, and let them explore for themselves!
Help them discover new hobbies and friends
Whether it’s joining a sport team, learning to cook, heading out on hikes, going to dance classes, taking up an instrument, or anything else, encouraging your child to take up new hobbies is one of the most important things to consider when learning how to build self-confidence in a child.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to hobbies, Army Cadets is a fantastic choice. When taking part in Army Cadets activities, children and teens head out on adventures in nature, building strong bonds with new friends and discovering all the potential they have inside. Increased self-esteem and reduced social anxiety is common feedback from new cadets – so, if you’re still wondering how to build self-confidence in a child, you know what to do!