how to raise a confident child

How to Build Self-Confidence

We often look up at successful people and wonder why it seems so easy for them to achieve their dreams. Did they employ Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people? Did they enroll in a masterclass that shares expert advice on success? Or are they just lucky?

The answer to all these questions is simple. Aside from HARD WORK, they have mastered the skill of BEING CONFIDENT, which many of us lack. 

Instead of devoting their time to worrying about outcomes, they focus on enhancing their skills and believing they are capable of doing anything.

Some would probably raise their hand and argue that we are born with a certain level of confidence, and it cannot be developed. That is just a petty excuse for someone afraid to try. If you want to live a successful and happy life, the first step would be to rid yourself of your negative self-talk and think everything is doable.

If you are still not convinced, here are some other reasons why confidence is necessary:

  1. You become more motivated. Because you are self-reassured, you often find yourself trying new things without hesitation.
  2. You become more resilient. When you experience failure, you don’t dwell on it too much, but instead, you go back up and handle it with grace.
  3. You make better relationships. You enjoy people’s company more because you aren’t worried about their perceptions of you. 
  4. You develop a stronger sense of self-worth. Confidence roots from knowing that you aren’t perfect, but it doesn’t change your value as a person. 

So, how can confidence be developed to achieve a successful, meaningful life? We have divided this article into two parts: the first half is addressed to parents who would like to raise confident kids/teens, and the second half is for young adults struggling with confidence issues. Note that not all of these will work depending on the individual, but then again, there is no harm in trying. 

How to Raise a Confident Child

Every individual is different, so there’s never going to be a blanket way of parenting that creates young, confident, independent adults. However, there are certain things you can do as a parent to encourage personal growth and build confidence from a young age. Here are some ways to build confidence in young kids/teens so that they become more comfortable with trying new things and taking on new challenges in both childhood and adult life.

Blog Article: How to Motivate a Teenager

Pencil in Plenty of Child-Led Play

You might not think that something as simple as playing could help to build confidence in kids, but it does. 

Play isn’t just play. Playing — particularly child-led play — gives kids a safe space for experimenting with concepts and ideas, making decisions, and expressing themselves, all without repercussions (or serious ones, at least).

By allowing your child to take the lead when it comes to playtime, you are providing a significant opportunity to build confidence and boost self-esteem. But how exactly can you do this? 

There are all sorts of ways you can encourage child-led play. Sago Mini Box is a great place to start; it’s an activity subscription box aimed at preschoolers, so it’s perfect for getting that child-led discovery early. Each box is brimming with fun and educational activities specifically designed to allow little ones to take the lead (with a little bit of guidance from parents, of course!), allow ample opportunity for kids to take ownership of both playtime and their own learning process. 

Appreciate and Recognize Their Effort (Even When Things go Wrong)

It can be hard if things don’t go your way. This is something that we adults struggle with sometimes, let alone our sons and daughters. When things don’t go according to plan, we get something wrong, or we don’t do as well at something we thought we should, it can have a knock-on effect on our confidence. 

That’s why it is essential to tackle these situations head-on when kids are younger and are well-equipped to deal with confidence knocks when they are older. 

This helps to build confidence at a young age so that they can handle the disappointment of failures as adults. And not only does this shape their mentality when it comes to setbacks, but it also means that their social skills and responses to these situations are vastly better — we all know adults who lash out when things don’t go their way.  

Your reaction to childhood mistakes is not to be underestimated — it can shape who they are as adults from an incredibly young age. Luckily there are a few things you can do to boost their confidence when faced with adversity. 

For a start, celebrate their efforts. Whether their team loses or they make a mistake, they’re still trying. Appreciate and recognize their hard work and effort, regardless of the result. Even if things go “wrong,” kids should never be made to feel embarrassed, guilty, or not good enough despite trying. 

Encourage them to keep trying, point out the positives of the situation, and recognize growth — if they did something better than last time, that’s great! Knowing that they have support as a parent will boost confidence in kids’ no-end and help them figure out how to deal with setbacks in both childhood and adulthood. 

Provide the Opportunity for New Experiences

Kids need repetition and routine to provide them with stability; it’s true. But that doesn’t mean that you should shelter them from the unknown or not try out new things with them for fear of negative responses. 

As a parent, one of the best learning opportunities you can provide — and one that will hugely increase confidence in young kids — is the access to new experiences. 

Exposing children to new and different life experiences, people, social situations, and even things like food can help develop confidence and the ability to deal with the big wide world. 

There are all sorts of ways you can create new learning opportunities and explore new experiences together. This could be taking trips and visiting new places together. It doesn’t even have to be a different country — also visiting different environments such as the city or the countryside, or heading to a new park to meet new kids, or going to the zoo or a farm to learn about unknown animals create learning opportunities.

You don’t even necessarily need to step outside to provide new experiences, either — you can do this in your own home too. For example, trying out different activities during play, such as arts and crafts or science experiments, can create exciting learning opportunities that boost confidence and give kids the chance to explore the unknown. 

Food is an excellent way to build confidence through new experiences at a young age (BBC Good Food is a great place to start). Cooking and baking with young kids can be a lot of fun, as well as teaching them math skills, improving communication, encouraging adventurous eating, and building confidence.

Allow Them to be Curious

Sure, there are times when kids can be annoying with their barrage of questions that never seem to end. Most parents would only dismiss this and act as if they aren’t interested in answering any of their child’s queries.

However, curiosity in kids should be encouraged because it is a sign that they are willing to learn. As compared to passive kids who aren’t interested in gaining new knowledge unless you feed it to them, being curious is a way better characteristic.

This will significantly help them in school because they will never be afraid to speak out once they don’t understand something. They will also learn more because they are trained to digest information, which translates to a more intelligent and confident child.

Model Confidence

This advice applies to parents of both kids and teens. Before you try to develop your child’s confidence, make sure you are serving as a good role model.

Since you are the one who interacts with them most of the time, it would be better to indirectly show them how to be confident by being confident yourself. Skip your daily morning negative talk in front of the mirror, pointing out your sagging skin or your unwanted freckles because this instills the idea in your child to be self-conscious.

Instead, demonstrate courage and confidence in everything you do so that your child will understand that it is possible to do it that way. Let’s say you are required to attend a parent-teacher conference. Show up without feeling intimidated with other parents, so your child learns how to interact with other people without worrying about their perception of him.

You can also share stories with your child about your experiences that were made better by being a little bit brave and confident. Trust us on this, knowing that their life superhero also went through the phase of awkwardness and overcame it through confidence would deeply encourage them.

Don’t Make Them Feel Your Worry

Who doesn’t worry about their child, right? Parents are wired to be constantly anxious about their child’s feelings. Unfortunately, being an overly worried parent directly impedes kids’ and teens’ confidence.

Here’s the thing, when you keep showing them that you are worried about their decisions and actions, they often feel like you don’t trust them enough to handle their situation. They would start doubting themselves and lose self-esteem.

We are not saying that you should let your child be independent at a young age and leave everything to them. A wise parent knows when to intervene and when to trust that their child can handle challenges completely.

The next time you feel worried about your child, keep it to yourself and see what he will do about it. Knowing that you trust them is a great source of confidence.

Encourage Practice

You know that your child is not good at math, but the only thing you can say to him is, “you can do it!” That’s a bit of a bummer, don’t you think?

The best way to encourage a child who lacks confidence in doing something because he’s terrible at it is to let him practice and practice. Before you shower your child with encouraging words, make sure that he’s working on the skill he is not confident about. 

If he’s afraid to attend math classes at school because he doesn’t want to fail any more quiz and tests, get him a tutor or serve as his home teacher. Print worksheets and push him to study despite finding it difficult.

If he doesn’t know how to play basketball, teach him how or enroll him in extra classes to enhance his skills. Once he learns that he can do anything through focusing and practicing, he’ll become the confident child the whole school would admire.

Let Them Solve Problems by Themselves

Ah, if it isn’t one of the most useful advices of all! As parents strive to be more present in their child’s life, they try to do everything for them to the point that they would even solve their tiniest problems.

This could be considered sweet if only it doesn’t teach the child to be more dependent on others. 

If kids and teens are left to figure out their own problems, they will not only learn how to be independent but also experience some sense of achievement, which is a good confidence booster.

Teach Them the Skills You Know

Many kids grow up to be confident adults because they know how to do a lot of things. Does it stem from enrolling in different workshops? Maybe. But the most excellent source of knowledge is still none other than their parents.

If you know how to bake, for instance, why not involve your child the next time you’re going to experiment in the kitchen. If you’re good in literature and philosophy, why don’t you teach your teen a thing or two about philosophical beliefs and canonical works?

When accumulated, these simple skills can build up one’s confidence because no matter what situation they are in, they would always find a way to solve it.

There are all sorts of things you can do to build confidence in kids from a very young age — these are just a few great starting points. 

As a parent, it’s essential to take a step back to let kids figure problems out, make their own decisions, and take ownership. But simultaneously, being there to provide emotional support and guidance will help build confidence and encourage their transition into independent and confident young adults. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s possible — and you’ll see the reward as your children grow.

How to be a Confident Young Adult

The reason behind self-confidence varies from person to person. The woman sitting next to you at the subway may have developed confidence through consistent practice of his craft. On the other hand, your workmate appears to be confident because of the commendations he’s constantly receiving.

Since we have different circumstances, there is no single piece of advice that will work for all. But striving to work on building self-confidence every single day is a good start.

In this part of the article, we tried to list some tips for young adults with confidence issues at work or in life in general. Take time to read all these advice and make sure to apply some that you think will work for you.

Pursue Things You Care About

The most common advice you’ll find on the internet about being confident would be to not care about anything at all. This isn’t entirely effective because you’re only putting a gap between you and others and not solving your confidence problem.

Instead of being detached, you should work on things that interest you. Do you want to learn ballet? Good! Enroll in a particular class and learn how to do that tiptoe. Want to be a good singer, join a band, and hone your skill. Invest time in learning because sometimes it is by knowing that you can do something that the seed of confidence slowly develops.

You should also not be afraid to try things you know would boost your confidence. For instance, joining a writing contest and earning an award or studying ceaselessly to get that Latin honor. Who’s to say your method is wrong?

As long as you’re not harming anyone and you’re on the track of achieving your goal to be confident, just do it!

Accept Failure

What do you get from failure? A bad day? A reprimand from your boss? A lesson, perhaps?

If you chicken out on the first sign of failure, you won’t get anywhere. But if you convince yourself that it is okay to fail, you are on your way to greatness.

Why, you ask?

Simple. The cumulative effect of failure is this: you realize that it is temporary- that after a few days or months, you’re the only one dwelling on it, and others have already moved on.

Once you have grown accustomed to failing from time to time, you won’t be too hard on yourself, and you’ll learn how to be more confident because you know you can come back stronger from a setback.

Become Who You Admire

We all look up to someone because they have characteristics we would like to have or simply because they’re good at what they do.

Instead of just idolizing them, why don’t you list the characteristics that set them apart and try to mimic who they are? This is a good stepping stone for people who are lost when it comes to figuring out themselves. From echoing other people’s attitudes, you might be able to build the foundation of your own confidence.

Come up With a List of Inner Reasons Why You are Not Confident and Work on It

Do some self-reflection and figure out why you aren’t as confident as you would like to be. Is it because you are traumatized by mistake in the past? Is it due to your lack of exposure to crowds?

Use your journal to list these reasons and write what you can do about them on another page. Chances are, you won’t learn how to be confident if you haven’t addressed these things that are eating your brain.

If you’re having a hard time dealing with them alone, try to ask a friend’s help or talk to your parents so they can give you advice. 

Remember That no One Cares as Much as You Think

Most of us aren’t confident in facing others because we are afraid to be criticized. News flash! No one cares about us as much as we do. And even if they care, it will eventually pass.

Stop thinking about how other people will view you and focus on how you see yourself. Here is an example: you were assigned to deliver a presentation at work in front of your boss and colleagues. You think you messed up a part of your discussion, and you let that stress you out the whole day while everyone at the office has already moved on. Aren’t you being hard on yourself?

Always remember that as individuals, we have this annoying habit of focusing on ourselves, so most of the time, our anxiousness towards others’ perception of us isn’t worth it because they are similarly worried about how you view them.

Develop your own self-affirmation

You may have heard of Muhammad Ali’s mantra, “I am the greatest!” This is an example of self-affirmation that you can use to motivate yourself in times of self-doubt.

Here are some other examples of self-affirmation statements you can use:

  • I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
  • There are some things I cannot change, and I accept that.
  • I have control over my thoughts.
  • I make a difference.
  • I have a lot to offer.
  • I am confident in my ability.
  • I am at peace with who I am.

Write a letter to yourself to remind you of your achievements

If you have somehow learned to be confident and you feel like you’re doubting yourself again, you will find this advice very helpful. 

Write a letter to yourself, specifically stating all that you have achieved in life. When the time comes that your confidence is wavering, read the letter and be reminded of what you are capable of doing if you set your mind to it.

Understand That Everyone is Wearing a Mask

In Erving Goffman’s sociology book The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life, he explains how each of us wears a mask when interacting with others for acceptance.

This means that there is no point in being intimidated by people you encounter every day because, just like you, they are trying to be the best version of themselves.

People lose their confidence most of the time because they compare themselves to how others are handling their own situations. But the truth is, everyone is trying. It’s just that others have mastered how to appear as if they are in control, which leads us to the following advice.

Learn to Present Yourself Well

Dress up. Stand with confidence. Make eye contact. Make sure that you feel good on the outside because it reflects your spirit. 

No one wants to listen to someone who did not even bother to comb her hair or iron her clothes. If you want to command respect and appear as if you know what you are doing, invest time in your appearance. 

Be Assertive

Speak up! There is nothing wrong with expressing what you believe is right. People would even look up to you because you know how to use your voice on things that matter. 

Just be careful that you do not become dominant and undermine other people’s feelings. Be respectful of others, but at the same time, speak your mind. This is one significant step to becoming confident.

Ask yourself, “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”

During the times that you are second-guessing your abilities, pause and ask yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

If it’s a matter of life and death, of course, you are allowed to take a step back. But if it isn’t, just jump right in.

Sometimes, learning how to be confident stems from a moment of bravery- by doing something you are afraid of, and making decisions without giving it so much of a thought.

Conclusion:

To end this list of advice, it would be fitting to tell you a little story by Robert Fisher that might teach you a thing or two about confidence.

In his book The Knight in Rusty Armor, Fisher tells the tale of a knight that became obsessed with his own armor to the point that he wears it to dinner with his wife and son. One day, he discovers that he can no longer take the armor off, so he seeks the help of the wizard Merlin.

In his journey, the Knight realized that no one could really remove his armor but himself. Since he chose to wear it to hide his insecurities, learning about who he truly is rusted off the armor. 

One of the many realizations of the Knight is this: We aren’t born with a predestined purpose in our life. We choose to create our own meaning, and we are entirely in control of who we want to become.

In your path to developing your confidence, remember that you don’t have to live up to society’s ideals. Take full control of your life and find out who you are- your strengths and even your weaknesses, and use it to become better.

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!

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