In the rapidly changing world we live in, have you ever thought, I want my kids or grandkids to be more confident. Confidence. Confidence. It’s a word that carries a lot of weight and for good reason. In Latin, the root word of confidence is fidēs, meaning “faith” – so, confidence means with faith, with trust, with belief.
Interestingly, the same people hoping their kids will grow up brimming with confidence face an enormous problem. Parents or teachers want their kids to be able to bounce back from life’s inevitable hardships and build resilience. However, research reveals certain habits are stripping kids of self-confidence instead of building it up, which increases their risk of being unsuccessful.
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe
Parenting is arguably the hardest job in the world, so please know that we’re not condemning anyone. But in order to build confidence in kids, parents and educators alike must learn how to instill confidence in a healthy, encouraging, and respectful way.
15 Things You Should Do to Raise More Confident Kids
If you want to give your children one of the greatest gifts of all, foster in them confidence. Today, every one gets a ribbon or medal and everyone’s a winner, so failure is not even an option.
It might sound cliché, but when those same kids who never failed enter the real world, they likely will not have the resilience to bounce back after they don’t get into that school or get that job.
The same logic follows for kids who experienced failure but didn’t have a proper support system assuring them that failing does not make them a failure.
1) Let them act their age
Remember when you were that young? Some of you would rather not go down that road, but it’s helpful when working with kids of your own. “When a child feels that only performing as well as parents is good enough, that unrealistic standard may discourage effort,” according to psychologist Carl Prickhardt. “Striving to meet advanced age expectations can reduce confidence.”
2) Give praise when and where praise is due
If your child has not already learned, life is hard and unfair. But that doesn’t mean it has to suck and, thankfully, you can help! When they do experience tough times, encourage them to keep pushing forward. Let them know that while every road has its bumps, finally getting where they need to go is that much sweeter.
3) Find a balance between being authoritative and forceful
It’s no question that young people are dependent on their parents or role models for direction. However, there is a fine line between guiding and doing. Helping foster self-direction in children will allow them go become more self-confident and independent. Pickhardt says, “Dependence on being told can keep the child from acting bold.”
4) Get excited about trying, trying, and trying again
In other words, get excited about, even celebrate, learning! People rarely realize the process of learning until they’re looking back and realize how much love and effort was required. The best part? It wouldn’t have been possible without instilling that love for learning from their mistakes. According to Pickhardt, “consistently trying hard builds more confidence than intermittently doing well.”
5) Teach them all you know
Or at least try to. It may not seem like it some (or most) days but, to your child, you’re the best superhero in existence. There no need to be formal about it either! It could be something as simple as cooking a meal or fixing an appliance. Have them join you and, as Pickhardt says, watching you will help build their own confidence in doing that task in the future.
“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” – Peter T. Mcintyre
6) It’s okay to challenge your kids, so do it
As they grow older and become more capable, tell them they have the power to do more. For example, if they’ve been riding a bike with training wheels, challenge them to ride with one or both removed. “Parents can nurture confidence by increasing responsibilities that must be met,” says Pickhardt.
7) Appreciate the effort they put into things
Deep down, you may not even be satisfied with the effort they put in. But, if whether they win or lose or get a good or bad mark, appreciate the effort. Personally acknowledge the time and effort they put in, too. Once that’s done, you can move forward and make improvements together for next time. Remember, while the destination is desired, the journey is what’s truly important.
8) Foster the value of practice
Parents often have their own desires for their children. Sometimes it works out that the child wants the same thing, but not always. In any case, encourage them to practice whatever it is they’re passionate about, while still keeping it fun. Pickhardt explains: “Practice invests effort in the confident expectation that improvement will follow.”
9) Encourage curiosity and imagination
Did you ever get stuck in one of those seemingly endless WHY moments, where the endless stream of questions doesn’t stop? It’s exhausting but try your best to keep engaging their active mind! Harvard University professor Paul Harris believes engaging in these question-answer periods reveals that “there are things they don’t know… that there are invisible worlds of knowledge they have never visited.”
10) Criticize, the right way
The way you offer criticism can make or break a child’s confidence. Instead of negatively listing all (and only) the things they didn’t do, offer constructive feedback. They might already be worried about disappointing you and, with a poor response, can discourage them from trying new things in the future. “More often than not,” says Pickhardt, “parental criticism reduces the child’s self-valuing and motivation.”
“With confidence, you have won before you have started.” – Marcus Garvey
11) Give them experiences instead of vacations
All parents have an obligation to, Pickhardt explains, “increase life exposures and experiences so the child can develop confidence in coping with a larger world.” The earlier you begin to do this with and for your child, the more equipped they will be to deal with moments of fear that life will inevitably present.
12) Don’t let them know when you’re worried
This is a tough one because it’s a thought that runs through the minds of parents from… conception! But, we’re talking about the kind of worrying that makes a child feel inadequate and untrusted. One thing parents must work towards understanding, says Pickhardt, is that “expressing parental confidence engenders the child’s confidence.”
13) Don’t just speak to their head, but also to their heart
As parents, we quickly have the revelation that time is finite and want to impart all the knowledge we can to our children and grandchildren. While that’s all good, it can become impersonal. Humans were created as relational beings. So, as you teach, try doing it with an arm around the shoulder or sitting down together at the same level.
14) Don’t allow them to escape reality
With technology at our fingertips most of the day, it’s easier now more than ever to take on a sort of digital self – an new identity. While the internet and certain tech products have enormous benefits, make sure your child is also engaging with real people in the real world. Pickhardt makes the necessity of this quite clear: “Confidence in the virtual world (although important) is not the same as real world confidence that offline effectiveness brings.”
15) Re-think mistakes
The word “mistake” carries a negative connotation and that has made it challenging for parents and children alike to deal with them… However, Pickhardt writes “Learning from mistakes builds confidence.” Instead, the next time your kid or grandkid makes a mistake, treat it as a teachable moment or a building block on which to improve. As their willingness to learn from their mistakes grows, so will their confidence.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
3 Practical Tips to Boost Confidence Today
This 4-minute TED-Ed talk will give you a few effective tips to increase your self-confidence overnight!
- Try a quick fix: Picture your success when you’re a difficult task
- Believe in your ability to improve: Ditch your fixed mindset (i.e., you cannot change) and develop a growth mindset (i.e., you can become better)
- Practice failure: Think of a challenge you want to take on; realize it’s not going to be easy, accept that you’ll make mistakes and be kind to yourself when you do, give yourself a pep-talk, stand up, and go for it
Remember, says Carl Pickhardt…
“The enemies of confidence are discouragement and fear.” So, it’s our responsibility as teachers, parents, mentors, and friends to encourage and support our next generation of growing leaders as they attack life head-on. Because, one day, they will have to do the same for someone in their current position.