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How to Build Self Confidence in Children?

26 August 2021

When kids feel good or bad about themselves, it is often very visible to the outside world. Self-esteem is a part of everyday development and it is affected each day as well. It has been linked to self-acceptance, belief, pride, and more.

Self-esteem encourages children to pick themselves up when they fall, face their faults, mistakes, and failures, while also finding joy in the little things they achieve and accomplish. Building a child’s self-esteem up is a layered process that reaps several rewards- it is a crucial factor in all their future endeavours. However, while doing so, a parent must be careful not to give their child a false sense of self, or an oversized sense of self-importance- this could encourage arrogance, an ego, and so on.

Here are some tried and tested suggestions on how to build up a child’s sense of self-esteem!

  1. Praise the effort: put in, rather than the result. Children make mistakes and it is important to point out those mistakes in a more constructive way. To do this, parents need to be extremely honest with their children while also acknowledging their effort and pointing out what they did correctly. In such situations, this indicates to the child that although they are on the right track, they still have more to learn and can improve.
  2. Don’t be perfectionist parents: As parents, don’t be afraid of the mistakes your children make and don’t be too harsh when they do make those mistakes either. Remember that mistakes are a part of learning and remind your children that too. Instead of being afraid of failure, show your children that there is much that can be learned from it.
  3. Focus on your child’s interests and passions: Honing their hobbies and perfecting their strengths can create a surge of self-confidence in children. It gives them pride, confirms that they are, in fact, really good at something. Confidence in their skill can in turn lead to them trying new things as they believe in their abilities more.
  4. Allow failure: We only harp on success but it is true failure that teaches how to do better if we can learn from it. Allow your child to fail and help them to learn from it. Let them feel that neither failure nor success is permanent. It is how they learn from their experiences.

Children of different ages have different relationships with the concept and feeling of self-esteem, but as a parent, you can always enhance their sense of self. For babies and infants, showing love and care can cause them to feel important. Similarly, when toddlers are given a little bit of control and autonomy in small, simple decisions, they begin to feel confident in their ability to make choices.

When children begin going to primary school, however, self-esteem building can become tricky. School can often put a dent in the child’s self-esteem- may be because they find that they are not good at certain subjects, or extracurricular activities, or maybe because they feel disliked by classmates, face bullying, and so on. At home, children are surrounded by nurturing family members and primary school is a new environment altogether- one that does not include their familiars but new and sometimes, upsetting people. To build their self-esteem and sense of self in this case becomes very important. Parents can try being more loving, create a fun space at home for their children to excel at things they enjoy doing, parents could even get more involved in the child’s school life by speaking with teachers and coming up with new ways in which they can encourage and motivate the child to try other things. These things can subtly nudge the child to try their hand at things again, should they have failed before. These actions provide a safe space that values learning and enjoyment and does not foster a fear of failure.

All in all, children need to be guided while they are learning about themselves, their abilities, and creating an image of who they are to themselves. As parents, pushing them in the right direction and allowing them a sense of control can help the child bloom… only if we can let go of our controls to do so!!

Mansi M Doshi
Licensed Clinical Psychological and Psychotherapist. She is the founder of “Cognitive Balance”, the center for emotional well-being and mental health. She has been the infield of psychology for the past 18 years. She has also done her specialization in Play therapy from the British Association of Play therapist and Mayo Clinic (USA). She has been associated with various schools, children, and adults in handling emotional, behavioral, and learning concerns.

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