Self-confidence is a person’s belief that he or she has the ability to succeed. It is essential for all aspects of children’s healthy development and school success. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling message, as those without it may fail or not even try because they lack it, and those with it may succeed because they have it and keep trying.
Children who are confident are highly motivated to success, are eager to learn new knowledge and skills and take new challenges. Self-confidence is also crucial for getting along with others and working out many social challenges. Children with social confidence enjoy interacting with others by sharing, competing, and making a lot of friends, which is a key to team work and to succeed in the global society.
How does self-confidence develop?
Self-confidence is not an inborn ability. Babies learn who they are primarily through their interactions and experiences with others. A child’s sense of confidence is mostly shaped and nurtured by those who care for him or her. Let’s use some examples to see how confidence grows across the first several years of life.
A newborn cries and is comforted by his parent. He is learning about love, and feeling he is important to his parents.
An 8-month-old baby shakes a rattle and smiles at the sound it makes. His parent says, “You make it works! Good job!” He is learning he can do it, and feeling happy by parent’s praise.
A toddler picks up a pen and drawing on the wall, his parent says “no!” and gives him a piece of paper, he starts drawing. He is learning that his interests are important and will be supported by those who love him.
A 3-year-old counts “1, 2, 3”, his parent says “great!” and teaches him “4, 5”. He enjoys leaning and mastering new things.
A 5-year-old figures out one plus one, his parent tells him, this is math, he feels he love math want to know more.
A 7-year-old brings home his report card with a lot of “As”, he smiles and his parents smile.
A very important goal for us as parents is to help our children gain self-confidence, which does not only help them to develop mentally, but also benefits them on life skills and building self-esteem. Here are some ways that can help parents to nurture children’s self-confidence.
Help the child to improve self-respect. Teach him or her to love himself or herself and love life, to become a person who is loved. Tell him or her that he or she is unique and very import to family and our society.
Give the child appropriate compliments. Praise him or her when he or she has achieved a good grade or has done a task well, which will help him or her to build importance and the desire to do better. Remember not to over praise him or her, which may lead to opposite effect.
Give the child responsibilities. Feeling useful and needed makes him or her feel important and gain self-confidence.
Help the child to break down a difficult task into small manageable ones. This helps him or her feel in control, and increases the chance of success, then gain self-confidence gradually.
Encourage the child to try to master tasks he is struggling with. Children learn by doing.
Help the child to learn to overcome obstacles and to be persistent in facing of frustration. Tell him or her that in real life, he or she will hit a lot of inevitable setbacks; only a strong person who keeps trying in different ways can succeed.
Encourage the child always to try his or her best. Let him or her know that his or her efforts help him or her make better decisions and get achievements, which make him or her feel good about self and will gain self-confidence.
Always provide the child feedback in a positive way. When the child makes a mistake or an accident occurs, parents’ response should be positive, which makes him or her feel that parents are there for him or her. Help the child to find out why he or she made the mistake or what is the cause of the accident, then try to find a possible solution, so that next time, it will not happen.
Help the child to grow his problem-solving ability. Guide him or her work through problems, but don’t solve them for him or her, give him or her chance to achieve and feel successful.
Be a role model. Children are always watching their parents for what to do or how to do things. If parents can model persistence and confidence ourselves, our children will learn this too.