How Can You Enhance Your Child's Confidence

young girls confidently climbing a rock wall

Many of us may have memories from childhood that include a lack of confidence letting us down or a good dose of resilience in a particular situation pulling us through. These experiences inform how we parent. But just how does our parenting style and approach impact our children’s self-esteem and confidence? What do we mean by ‘confidence,’ and, in order to build it, what do our children need from us?

Definitions  

What does confidence look like and how do we recognize it in our children? It might be defined as:  

  • Willing to try something new  
  • Happy to contribute own ideas  
  • Able to relate to others’ feelings  
  • Making eye contact; smiling  
  • Good at handling failure  

It’s important to acknowledge the phrase, ‘quietly confident,’ too — it’s not all about playing the lead role. You should also pay attention to how your child is demonstrating confidence — this is often via their body language and non-verbal clues. And keep in mind that this can all change when your child is in their adolescent years.  

Core principles for growing your child’s confidence  

Practicing positive parenting will help boost your child’s confidence. This style of parenting is based on the belief that your children want to communicate with you. It suggests you actively listen to them, discuss, and are very clear about what you want them to do. You set clear limits and boundaries, are firm and consistent, and give the same message every time. Positive parenting views disagreements between parents and children as opportunities to develop problem-solving and negotiation skills.  

Here are four core principles to follow: 

  1. Ask questions  - Asking your child questions conveys that you value their opinion.  
  2. Be reliable  - Doing what you say you’ll do — or being where you say you’ll be — builds your child’s sense of security.  
  3. Demonstrate empathy - Look for the feelings behind your child’s behavior or words. Imagine how your child is feeling and talk about it with them.  
  4. Promote curiosity  - Encourage your child to explore and engage with the world around them. 

Fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets

Staying aware of these four core principles will put you in a better position to help your child develop the essential characteristics of a growth mindset. A growth mindset will help them understand that they shouldn’t always expect success. It’ll make it easier for them to deal with failure and will be essential to their future emotional health and wellbeing, not to mention their academic achievements. 

How is a growth mindset different from a fixed mindset? Here are the characteristics of each: 

Growth mindsets  

  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist in the face of setbacks 
  • See effort as the path to mastery
  • Learn from criticism
  • Find inspiration in the success of others  

Fixed mindsets 

  • Intelligence is static 
  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily
  • See effort as fruitless
  • Ignore feedback
  • Feel threatened by success of others  

Practical action 

Here are three things you can start doing now: 

  1. Use descriptive praise — the first ingredient in supporting and developing confidence and self-esteem. Instead of just exclaiming, “Wow, amazing, great,” name and describe what you’re praising.  
  2. Spend one-on-one time with your child and minimize distractions.   
  3. Take every opportunity to boost your child’s confidence. Supporting your child will help them feel better about themselves.  
“The ability of a human being to manage his or her emotions in a healthy way will determine the quality of his life in a much more fundamental way than his IQ.”  
Dr. Laura Markham, ‘Calm Parents, Happy Kids: The Secrets of Stress Free Parenting’