Self-confidence, which is the conciseness and trust in one's abilities, qualities, and judgements, is something that most people struggle with. It can feel confusing and daunting to try and figure out how to foster self-assurance in children when factors like the influence of the media and peer pressure can easily manipulate anyone's self-image.
Notably, parents also struggle with the concept of trying to encourage their children to learn and persevere through tribulations by being self-assured but avoid endorsing too much confidence where it can turn into narcissism. Luckily, it may not be as difficult as one might think. Here are 10 tips to build a child's confidence.
10 The Power of Beneficial Feedback
According to Dr. Mary Welford, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, self-confidence is being aware of when you're struggling and having the strength to do something about it. Mistakes are a fundamental part of the learning process. Therefore, as parents, providing supportive and beneficial feedback to your children when they are struggling can instil self-assurance in your child to persevere through hard times. How a parent speaks to their child plays a significant role in how a child views themselves and their abilities.
Feedback should always be an assurance of goodness, potential, favorability, and capability. In order to practice relaying positive assessments, parents should be mindful of their own internal feedback. Be kind to yourself.
9 Encourage Independence and Responsibility
In order for a child to become self-reliant, they must be given an opportunity to exercise independence and responsibility. Independent children believe they are competent and capable while being intrinsically motivated since they have been given opportunities and guidance to accomplish tasks or conflicts.
Dr. Jim Taylor, who specializes in parenting psychology, states it's the parent's responsibility to provide their child with the contingency, means, support, love, guidance, and encouragement throughout a child's efforts. Responsibility and independence begin when a parent gives their child the freedom to try and fail/succeed while ensuring logistical concerns are still covered.
8 Provide Positive Recognition
Positive Parenting highlights the idea of using positive reinforcement while raising children who are happier and confident while amplifying behaviour in a child that is desirable.
In fact, positive reinforcement is recognizing their strengths, efforts, and individualized interests which empowers them to go after what they want. By planting seeds of courage in children and recognizing what they are doing right, this can be a powerful tool in raising a confident child. This conditions their brain to believe they have the capability of attaining just about any desired result.
7 Nurture their passions
Nurturing a child's passion can be arduous since parenting and life can seem so competitive. Many people fool themselves that if they're passionate about something, there is someone else that excels in that passion past their own ability. However, passion is an important form of self-discovery that confident people see the significance in. It comes with realizing that what makes us happy is entirely individualistic.
Katie Hurley, a child-adolescent psychologist and author of "The Happy Kid Handbook", emphasizes that passion occurs when enthusiasm is present. Staying 'child-focused' and remaining enthusiastic in whatever your child is passionate about, can help them feel confident in not only their abilities but their potential to improve and excel in what makes them happy.
6 Let them be heard
A research study that was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health shows that "feeling heard" or putting feelings into words produces therapeutic effects in the brain. In fact, the brain imagining study that was conducted by a group of psychologists at UCLA showed how talking about how we are feeling make emotions and thoughts less intense. The amygdala, the region of the brain that works as an alarm system, increases in activity when we feel a biological response to an intense emotion, which helps protect us from danger. However, the study also showed that when labelling emotions, the amygdala response is decreased, and the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, which is thought to be associated with inhibiting behaviour and processing emotional experiences, is activated.
Therefore, "feeling heard" can actually influence a brain's biological response, conceived perception, and improve your child's physical and mental health.
5 Consistent Boundaries
Authoritative Parenting, a parenting style in accordance with optimal child development and long-term effective emotional regulation and coping skills, shows consistent and preset boundaries provide children with stability and routine. Boundaries give children confidence in what they're expected to do, especially when parents are reliable and consistent, that inspire a cause-and-effect way of thinking in children promoting critical thinking and decision making skills.
According to the Child Mind Institute, boundaries help children understand and respect their own needs (such as safety) and help increase empathy and awareness of the needs of others. With setting consistent boundaries from a young age, this helps give your child confidence to understand and respect their own needs and values as their mature into adulthood.
4 Help foster a healthy self-image
Self-confidence and self-image seem to go hand-in-hand when we consider extrinsic and intrinsic motivations of how we perceive ourselves, or how we judge others. Children from a young age can already be affected by materialism and superficial beauty, since they are moulded by perceptions of society or influenced by social media of what it takes to be perfect.
Despite these conflicting elements, it's possible to raise a child to be confident and self-assured by being who they were meant to be. Through observational learning, children can learn from their parents the importance of being genuine, kind (to self and others), and how to practice positive self-talk. It's impossible to filter out everything that could hurt your child's self-image, but what is possible, is to model how to preserve one's own self-worth.
3 Teach the value of helping others
Perhaps one of the most confusing concepts of helping children develop self-confidence and assurance is fostering it enough to encourage prosocial behaviour, while not endorsing narcissistic behaviours in your child. A great parenting tool to helping children be confident, yet down-to-earth, mindful, and empathetic is to teach the value of helping others.
Altruism is a selfless characteristic children typically display naturally, as they are more likely to employ comforting strategies towards someone who seems like they are in distress. The prosocial behaviour of helping others can be motivated by values, concerns, esteem enhancement, understanding, or personal development - nevertheless, helping others has been proven to not only make us feel good and self-assured but keep us grounded.
2 Model having a purpose
Referring to observational learning, when a parent model having their own purpose in life in front of their children, those children become more capable of adapting to life's struggles while going after what they feel their passion or calling may be. As a parent, it can be helpful to ask yourself these questions: What do you consider as your own values or aspirations in life? What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? What makes you feel happy?
Teaching your child how to set goals by your own example, can help them feel happier and confident. With goals focusing on personal progress targets and aiding in self-improvement and awareness, this provides your child with a sense of belonging that ultimately initiates healthy self-worth.
1 Let them "just be."
The single-handedly most powerful tip a parent can do to build confidence in their child is to let their child "just be."
Acceptance, whether it's from self or others, can make or break someone's self-confidence. Remember, as their parent you will always be their most influential role model, advocate, supporter, and safe haven. The words you speak to your child eventually becomes their intrinsic motivation OR their inner self-critic. All children have the capability of unlimited potential, no matter their deficits, imperfections, or shortcomings. Self-love, another important component of having positive confidence, is only possible when one feels accepted and loved for who they are.