We have all heard the famous Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” What most people don’t know is that building the confidence is not as easy as choosing to take a shot. Especially for kids, building confidence can be a difficult battle.
One of the things that I see most when I help kids is low confidence. Low confidence is something that a lot of people suffer with, but it can be incredibly harmful for children. It stops them from trying new things, has proven to stop them from being successful in their future careers, and can lead to mental health problems, both in the short- and long-terms.
But building confidence doesn’t have to be such an uphill battle! Here are five ways that I use to increase confidence in children.
1. Give praise when appropriate
Some parents might think that giving unconditional praise is a great way to build a child’s self-esteem. While you feel good about doing it, constant, undeserved praise can actually do more harm than good. Eventually, your child will begin to catch on to your continuous compliments and their value will be next to meaningless.
Instead, save your praise for when they help around the house or overcome adversity. Make sure that your kid challenges themselves and you aren’t just praising them for doing something that they do every day. Earning praise will build your child’s confidence, while being given exaggerated compliments will diminish it.
Don’t think that love and praise are the same, though. Love your child unconditionally and make sure that they know that. Nothing is as damaging to confidence as the feeling of not being loved. But don’t mistake your praise for them as your love for them.
2. Set SMART goals
There are few better feelings than achieving one of your goals. Kids are natural goal setters, so they are always working towards something. That might be scoring a goal in hockey, getting a B on their next test, or beating a level in a video game. But you really want to be SMART about your goal setting.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant, and time-based goals. They are scientifically proven to lead to more success compared to goals that are not SMART. While your child is likely resilient enough to not meet the occasional goal, repeatedly not meeting them will diminish their confidence.
On the other hand, achieving their goals builds their confidence and makes them more adventurous. It encourages them to get closer to taking those shots, which will just snowball into further increases in confidence.
3. Walk and talk with confidence
Not all confidence building comes from the outside. The way that your child sits, stands, walks, and talks can all impact their confidence levels. This all starts with how your child dresses in the morning. Let them choose their own clothing, let them dress in a way that makes them feel good.
When you are walking, standing, or sitting with your child, encourage them to maintain a good posture and demonstrate what confident body language looks like. Show them how social interactions go, with both friends and strangers, so they can model their own interactions after that.
Try to use positive self-talk around them, too. Positive self-talk is when you use words that reflect positively on yourself. Try to avoid creating a culture of self-degradation in your jokes. Make sure that you look for the positive in everything, too. All of these little changes can make a huge impact in your child’s self-confidence.
4. Turn failure into a learning opportunity
Everybody fails sometimes. It’s bound to happen with your child, especially considering how much dreaming they will do. They are naturally curious, and that curiosity should be nurtured. A kid that thinks they can achieve anything will be more apt to try new things.
But when they do come to an obstacle along the way, it’s important that you help them view the obstacle as a learning opportunity. Don’t let them get discouraged by failures or even see these obstacles as failures. Failure leads to diminished confidence.
Learning how to overcome your obstacles is a great way to turn a confidence-killer into a confidence-builder.
5. Support their passions
The best way that you can build your child’s confidence is to support their passion. Don’t just support, but encourage them to dream and pursue those dreams. And when it comes to those passions, be sure to focus on their efforts and their journey more than the results.
By supporting your child’s dreams, you are showing them that they can do what they set their mind to. Even better, you are showing them that they have help along the way. Their passions are not just their own then, but they are yours, too.
Confidence is built when we know that someone is backing us up. If we know that our dreams aren’t just in our own head, then our confidence skyrockets. Be that support for your child and see how eager they will be to tackle new things.
Building and maintaining a strong self-esteem in your child is one of the most rewarding things that you can do. It will reward them in every aspect of their life, now and down the road. It’s never too early to strengthen your child’s confidence or your own.
Building confidence is something that a life coach specializes in. I’ve seen confidence in the kids I work with go from the lowest points in their lives to the highest, and that is something that every child deserves.