Instilling Self-Confidence in Kids

by: Dan Florell, Ph.D.

“Here honey, let mommy do that,” said the mother as she reached for her daughter’s shoes to help put them on.

The two year old looked squarely at her mother, yanked away the shoes and said, “I do it.”

The little girl in this case was firmly expressing her self-confidence that she could put on the shoes by herself. As children get older, parents want them to continue to display their self-confidence and be able to do more and more on their own. After all, this is how children become adults who are independent and confident in their own abilities.

Unfortunately some children do not continue to have that can-do attitude that two year olds often display. Children’s self-confidence in their ability to complete new tasks and goals needs to be nurtured for it to continue throughout childhood.

Parents can take an active role in their children becoming more confident. One way is to give children small jobs around the house that they can complete. Some examples include doing the dishes, setting the table, sweeping, dusting, and folding laundry. Parents should consider what children are capable of doing and what they are likely to be successful in before assigning the small job. Each small job represents an opportunity for children to display their skills and feel that they are making a valuable contribution to the family.

Another way parents can encourage self-confidence is finding the time to play with their children. Play has tremendous benefits in regards to child development. Parents should make an effort to play with their children as it helps create a closer bond between them and sends the message to the children that they are valued and are worth spending time with.

While playing with their children and at other times, parents need to make sure they are paying full attention to them. Children can pick up on the fact when parents are not paying attention. So, parents need to put their cell phone aside and fully invest in what their children are saying or doing.

Parents can convey they are fully attending by making eye contact with their children. This conveys that the parents are really listening and what their children have to say matters. Fully attending to children can be hard as it seems that they always want parents’ time when it is most inconvenient. However, putting aside a task and spending that time with their children sends a powerful message regarding how important the children are to the parents.

A final way parents can encourage children’s self-confidence is to give them encouragement. Encouragement is focusing on their effort rather than the results. Effort is something children can control and effort is what pays off in the long run. Most tasks can be accomplished if someone puts enough effort into it.

Children are frequently presented with new opportunities and challenges as they grow up. Those who have high levels of self-confidence will welcome these challenges and throw themselves into the task. Parents can help children develop their self-confidence by playing with them, paying attention to them, and encouraging their effort.

This article was published in the Richmond Register daily Friday on September 25, 2015

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