Raising Confident Children & Nurturing Self Esteem in Young Kids
A parent’s ability to be instrumental in building their kid’s confidence is one of the most important things you’ll do for them.
What does confidence look like in children, and especially as they mature into adolescents and young adults?
Confident kids trust their own judgment, aren’t afraid to try new things even if they may fail, are more effective communicators and problem solvers, and have high self-esteem.
Sounds pretty good, right?
But, how do I do that?
In order to help boost your kid’s confidence, you have to be an active participants in their lives.
Of course, as a parent, you’re integral to all parts of your child’s development, but being present simply means you pay attention, make time to connect each day, and and don’t overpraise, but are constructive by how you praise them for their effort.
Here’s the good news.
It’s the little things you do everyday which add up to make a big difference.
Let’s start by going through each positive parenting method to boosting confidence, nurturing self-esteem and raising well adjusted kids.
GRAB YOUR FREE PRINTABLE: 9 Ways to Help Your Child’s Confidence Printable
1) Connect With Your Kids Every Day
It’s important to take time to engage with each of your children every day.
We all have busy lives, and are involved in many activities, but your kids need you to see them without a device in your hand or multitasking your attention.
This is two-fold.
The first part is because you need to know what is going on with your child, and now just about how they’re doing in school or on the soccer field. It’s about their emotional and mental state and the only way you can read between the lines is when you’re completely paying attention.
The second part is because they need to know you see them.
Really see them.
Show an interest in whatever they’re fixated on, look at pictures they draw for you, pay attention and care about what they say and do. Ask in-depth questions that go beyond, “how was your day” or “what did you do at school today?”
Show them they are worth your time and you care what they think, their emotions, interests and more.
Making children feel seen, makes them feel important and that feeling of being a priority is a big factor to feeling and being confident.
Knowing that your parents love you is a natural feeling, but also being shown that your parents want to know more about you and demonstrate that by taking the time to talk and listen, is critical to feeling important as well.
2) Don’t Overpraise with “Good Job” But Use Specific Praise Instead
Children know when you’re partially paying attention to them, whether they’re trying to show you a new picture they colored, ask you the same question for the 300th time or want you to watch a new trick they’ve been working to master.
They know when you’re simply offering them a cursory glance or an obligatory “good job” to appease them.
It only takes a few seconds to stop what you’re doing, watch them and really look at what they’re showing you.
Saying “good job” is the easy way out.
It’s dismissive praise and it does absolutely no good.
Plus, we know from research that over-praising kids for menial tasks prompts narcissism and egotism in childhood all the way into adulthood.
Instead, be specific and praise character, hard work and skill sets and turn it back around to the child.
Take out the “I” and use more “You” statements.
The simple shift to help your confident child will be magical.
#1 – When My Son Came to Show Me A Piece of Art From School
Instead of… “Wow, I love your picture. I love the colors you used!”
I said, “Trenton, you made such a beautiful picture. It looks amazing!”
#2 – When My Toddler Was Potty Training
Instead of….“I’m so proud of you! Way to use the potty all by yourself!”
I tried, “You did it! You listened to your body telling you it was time to use the potty and you went all by yourself.”
#3 – When My Son Won a Big Swim Race
Instead of… “I can’t believe how fast you swam. I’m so proud of you!”
I tried, “Wow, you swam so fast! You worked so hard out there, you did it all by yourself!”
So simple, right?
All of this goes a lot farther in boosting their confidence and self-esteem than a “good job” every will.
I like to turn the praise back around to my kids which makes the praise about something they did well.
This goes a lot farther than simply saying, “Good job on the monkey bars” or “good job at soccer today” because it actually tells them in a descriptive way about their achievement and that they worked hard to do it all on their own.
3) Kids Shine With Positive Reinforcement
Along the same lines as being specific with praise, look for opportunities to point out character-building compliments.
If your child is struggling with something but finally starts to catch on, applaud them on their perseverance and positive attitude to keep trying even though it was a struggle.
If they have been working hard on stacking blocks and find made one that didn’t topple over, compliment her on her hard work and amount of concentration it must have taken to build it.
Don’t wait for your children to bring you something, look for reasons to give a compliment.
Remember, use YOU statements, not “I” statements.
Unsolicited compliments tell kids you’re paying attention and nothing feels better than when someone notices you.
4) Giving Kids Choices Empowers Them
Letting your children make their own choices, boosts confidence because they learn to trust their own judgment.
Allow your kids to pick out their own clothes that they feel comfortable in, even if it looks a little silly or mismatched. Let them pack their lunch, pick out a book to read, or jump off the diving board if they want to give it a go.
If your children are younger, give two choices and let them make a decision from the choices you offer, plus it helps you skip the power struggle and that’s pretty nice isn’t it?
Young kids still feel like they’re decision-makers, even though it’s from two choices you offered.
For example, you may say:
- “Would you like peanut butter and jelly or a grilled cheese for lunch?”
- “What sounds better for today? Going to the library or taking a bike ride?”
- “Would you like to go to read a book or do a puzzle before bed?”
- “Boots or sporty shoes for today?”
Here are some ideas for older kids:
- Pack their own lunch
- Pick out clothes
- Pack bag for a trip or vacation
- Plan dinner
- Plan an outing
- Pick the movie
5) Don’t Jump in to Rescue When Kids Experience Failure & Challenges
This is a hard one, because letting your child get discouraged, make mistakes, struggle or get hurt, hurts you too.
As a parent, it goes against our natural instincts to swoop in and make things right. Unless your child is physically hurt, put your hands in your pocket, or bite your tongue, and hold back from the urge to jump into action.
The truth is this.
When we jump to their rescue, we aren’t doing them any favors by trying to fix and make things right.
Failure is a necessary, and sometimes painful part of life whether your a child or an adult.
Everyone must learn about failure; what it feels like to fail, and most importantly, how to pick yourself up and overcome it.
Kids need to learn to overcome discouragement, struggles, and obstacles on their own in order to develop confidence and positive self esteem.
What they learn when they fail and how they respond, will ultimately build resilience, perseverance, and boost confidence in knowing that they can overcome it.
The best part?
When kids do succeed, even in the face of failure, the confidence they gain from the experience will be magical.
So, what do you do?
Let your kids take risks.
Let your kids do things they are challenged by.
Let your kids try new experiences.
Try a new sport or try out for a team, run a race, take up pottery, sign up for the school talent show…
… Even if they might fail, so it helps them learn to persevere.
These positive affirmation cards for kids are perfect for reminding kids of their superpowers and encourage them.
6) Let Them Help (Even If It Drives You Crazy or Slows Things Down)
Children like to be good helpers and contribute – whether it’s asking to help make dinner, sweep the floor, pick up a toy or grab something off the shelf for you.
They like small tasks that make them feel like they’re helping and contributing to their family.
Find little ways they can help and feel like they play an important role in your household because this is a super simple way to boost their confidence and sense of importance to the family dynamic.
Some ideas to get kids lending a helping hand:
- Help make dinner
- Help around the house cleaning up
- Putting away laundry
- Assist with painting
- Help in the garden
7) Saying ‘YES’ is an Instant Confidence & Self Esteem Booster
It’s easy to say “no” out of habit.
No dessert tonight…
No watching screens…
No wearing shorts because it’s raining…
No, popsicles don’t count as lunch…
No we can’t go to the park…
No you ca’t play outside right now…
No we can’t play that game it’s too loud…
Over time, when we say “no” often, it becomes harder and harder to say “yes.”
It erodes a child’s confidence to keep asking if they believe the answer is always going to be “no.”
And that feels pretty crummy to hear, doesn’t it?
Saying “yes” to simple things your children ask to do, eat or go, makes them feel confident when their voice is heard and receives a positive response.
Confident kids who can ask their parents for things, will be confident to raise their hand in class, to step up to the plate and make decisions they feel confident with.
While you may be having a challenging day, are dog tired, or don’t feel like you can squeeze one more thing in your busy schedule… know that when you start saying yes more, you’ll begin to see a change in your children’s assertiveness and happiness and there is always time for this!
8) When Kids Problem Solve it Nurtures Self Esteem
Before you jump in and solve your children’s problems for them, give suggestions about how they can find a solution to the situation all on their own.
Are they stuck on a math problem, putting puzzle pieces in the right spot, sharing a toy or a conflict at the playground?
Before you rush to solve the problem before the crying, fighting or chaos ensues, instead pause and choose to guide your children to find a solution on their own.
When they can find solutions on their own, they’ll have pride in themselves and their communication skills, judgment and overall confidence in themselves.
9) Model Confidence to Raise Kids Who are Confident
“You cannot give your children what you do not have.” – Brene Brown
This is one of my favorite parenting quotes and a good reminder that in order for us to teach – including confidence, resilience, perseverance, kindness, self-esteem – we must be these things ourselves.
Parenting is a constant cycle of finding opportunities to improve ourselves because it improves the lives of our children.
If we have weaknesses, they will be reflected in our children.
But our strengths… our children will adapt these too.
Be confident in your actions, in your activities, with your body and your choices.
Speak out loud about your mistakes and failures and show your children how you overcome being let down.
Teach them about picking yourself up when you’ve been knocked down.
Share your goals and methods to reaching your dreams.
Show that hard work can equal huge gains.