It’s no surprise that confidence is an important part of being successful. When we’re sure of our strengths and abilities, we’re likely to achieve more than we would if we were second-guessing our talents.
Confidence is an important part of being happy, too. In a psychological study on self-esteem, researchers found that self-confidence was the most important factor in predicting overall satisfaction with life. In fact, they noted a 47% link between confidence and happiness.
The key to being successful and content with life? No wonder parents want to ensure that their kids are confident from a young age!
Why Confidence Matters
Self-confidence isn’t a magic ticket to a world of wild success and inner peace. It’s more like a tool that allows an individual to grow and rise above the challenges that everyone meets in life.
Confidence Creates a Growth Mindset
When children are confident in themselves, they’re less likely to see setbacks as failures.
Instead of writing themselves off as being “bad” at something and quitting, a confident child is more likely to think they’re not good at a skill yet… they just need to keep trying. This way of thinking is often called a growth mindset in the academic world, and it can make a big difference.
A growth mindset helps a child see learning in a more positive light. Whether they’re diving into long division or studying new vocabulary words, a confident child will approach academics from a place of curiosity and interest, rather than a fear of failure.
Confidence Opens Doors to New Skills
The same is true for acquiring skills outside the classroom, too. Children who believe in themselves – even when they make mistakes here and there – will relish the challenge of learning a new sport, language, instrument, or hobby.
It can be frustrating and embarrassing to start out as a beginner, but a child with confidence is more likely to stick with a new activity long enough to see the rewards.
This creates a positive cycle. Once a child starts to improve at a skill, they’re not only going to stick with it – they may start to take on other new challenges, too!
Confidence Helps Kids Speak Up
Confidence also helps young people face adversity. Kids who feel sure of their beliefs are more likely to stand up to hurtful peers who might try to belittle them.
A child with high self-esteem will be less shaken by teasing and less likely to change who they are to impress others. Self-assurance will also help kids feel more comfortable defending others, asking for help, and speaking their mind, even if it means risking their own social image.
Of course, children who are too confident may be in for some tough love when they realize that they don’t have all the answers and are wrong from time to time. Yet this is also an important experience to have in childhood.
The sooner a child understands how to own a mistake without letting it ruin their self-image, the higher their chances for remaining a humble, happy person later in life.
How to Build Confidence in Kids with These 5 Tips
It’s clear that confidence is a huge part of a happy, healthy child’s foundation. Read on to explore some fun, simple confidence-builders for kids, and be prepared to watch your little one’s self-esteem soar!
1. Build Creative Thinking
Encourage your child to practice a wide variety of creativity-building activities, from arts and crafts to technology and games. When they hit a snag, help them see that they can find ways to adapt and overcome.
Set up finger paints or other art supplies and let your child express themself. Provide craft materials and glue and let them create a masterpiece. Whether they’re drawing, painting, cutting, or building, it might get messy – but the sense of pride from making something special is a huge boost to their self-esteem.
Since kids today are highly motivated by on-screen activities, you can also turn their screen time into something more productive.
Options like the HOMER Learn & Grow app offer customizable, kid-friendly games that incorporate skills like reading, math, and social-emotional understanding.
HOMER is a personalized learning app designed to help kids fall in love with learning. There are over 1,000 learning activities across all subjects, and the content is tailored to your child's age and interests.
HOMER’s app, which is available for a small monthly fee, is ad-free and designed to personally grow along with your child. The games are structured to help kids solve problems and use their critical thinking skills. When a goal is met, kids feel a sense of ownership and pride as they advance to the next level.
Artistic expression and educational games are great ways to bring out your child’s creativity while helping them become better at finding solutions and reaching goals.
2. Give Your Child a Job
We all like to feel as if what we’re doing matters. Successfully completing a helpful job means we’re contributing something useful – and that’s an important feeling for building self-esteem!
You can create this satisfying feeling for your child starting from a young age. Even toddlers can pull their weight, whether by making their bed, putting toys away, helping sweep the floor, or pitching in to bake something yummy (you won’t hear any complaining about that one!).
Of course, you’ll need to show your child how to do these things, and you’ll need to accept that the first couple times (or maybe even the first couple dozen times), they won’t be able to do it perfectly. A three-year-old’s sweeping job isn’t going to be spotless, and a four-year-old sous chef might mean much more work for you.
You may also have to contend with some eye-rolls and whining. Not many children will happily trade playing a game for picking up toys. But by teaching your child to do household tasks, and then holding them accountable for getting them done, you’re setting your child up for success.
When a child knows they’re expected to contribute to the household, they know that what they do matters. Their chores help the family run smoothly – and their parents believe in them and trust that they can do their part. This fosters a sense of security and self-reliance, and makes it more likely for the child to feel assured that they can master new skills later on down the road.
3. Encourage Free Play
Many parents feel pressure to pack their child’s free time with as many meaningful experiences as possible. In today’s hectic society, it can feel as if any time that’s not absorbed by a structured activity must be wasted.
Happily, though, this is not the case! Kids don’t always need to be engaged in a game or routine led by a grownup. Simply allowing your child to wander around the playground with friends or build blocks alone in their room can actually be more valuable than filling every moment with structured play.
This is because free time lets kids’ imaginations grow. If your child claims they’re bored, don’t fall for it: kids are amazingly resilient when it comes to coming up with ways to entertain themselves. Having to make their own fun means less dependence on toys, games, and stuff, and sparks willpower and creativity later in life.
Kids also build conflict resolution skills when they’re allowed to play freely with peers instead of participating in adult-regulated group activities. Learning to find solutions and work out differences peacefully is another big part of building self-esteem and confidence.
4. Offer Praise in a Positive Way
Everyone likes a word of recognition for a job well done, but be careful to praise your child in a way that builds their confidence instead of diminishing it.
Studies have shown that compliments that reward a child’s intelligence can actually decrease their motivation to keep working. “You’re so smart!” can translate to, “This should be easy for you… and if it isn’t, you must not be so smart after all.”
Comments about a child’s work ethic, meanwhile, can increase their drive to keep trying. “You worked hard and got the right answer!” shows that putting in the effort paid off this time, and probably will again.
Sometimes, a neutral comment is all that is needed. Instead of offering your approval on their every move (which opens the door to them feeling incapable of moving forward without your approval), simply note what your child is doing.
“You put a lot of green in your picture!” shows you’re paying attention, but doesn’t leave your child worrying if their next drawing will be less beautiful than this one.
5. Model Unconditional Love and Self-Acceptance
Last but not least, model unconditional love for your child. Let them know that everyone makes mistakes, but that messing up does not change their inherent worth as a human being.
A big part of showing your child unconditional love is modeling self-acceptance. Even on the days we feel like we’re doing everything wrong, it’s important to cut ourselves a break, too.
After all, we can say all the positive affirmations we want to our children, but if we’re beating ourselves up over every misstep, they’re bound to internalize that message for themselves.
Instead of having a meltdown when we miss a deadline or burn the dinner, show your child that grownups make mistakes, too, and that we use them as learning opportunities for the future.
After all, a confident parent is much more likely to raise a confident child… and those benefits of success and happiness will carry over to you, too.
A Final Word on Building Confidence in Kids
As a parent, guardian, or teacher, you’re always looking for ways to help your kids become more confidence and self-aware.
From using the HOMER Learn & Grow app to simply allowing kids to play in an open-ended, creative way, these practices will help them build the confidence they need to become successful, happy, and fulfilled.
It’s not always easy, but if you implement the tips above in a consistent manner, you’ll undoubtedly start to see results.
Small successes, like mastering a challenging task or gaining new skills, can be the beginning of big changes in your child’s confidence and self-esteem.
Have any questions or other suggestions about how to build confidence in kids? Let us know by leaving a comment below.