Every parent wants their child to have as much confidence in themselves as possible. A high level of self-esteem can take our children far in life, inspiring them to shoot for the stars and to believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
Confident children are more likely to turn into independent, happy, successful, mentally tough adults, and what parent doesn't want that for their little ones? However, self-esteem doesn't always come naturally — it's an acquired trait, not a genetic one — no matter how often we tell our kids how great we think they are (though keep saying that and more!).
If you think your child needs some help building a more positive self-image, here are 12 ways you can boost their confidence, starting today.
1. Focus on strengths while helping with weaknesses. Empower your child by focusing on their best attributes and talents. Faults and disappointments are inevitable, but help your child look at the bright side of struggles (e.g. "you might have lost your soccer game this week, but you made a really great play in the second half"). Let your kid know that no one is perfect, but we all have strengths and positive things to offer the world.
2. Encourage their talents. Most children develop special interests. Maybe they love basketball or excel at art. Find out what talents your child has and encourage them to develop them both through classes and teams and individually. Building on what your child already does well is a great way to develop confidence.
3. Let them make their own decisions. Give your children age-appropriate choices whenever possible, even if it's letting them decide whether to eat Cheerios or granola for breakfast. Letting your child make their own decisions empowers them and prepares them to make more complicated choices as they grow older.
4. Don't rescue them. Letting your children problem solve for themselves teaches them that they are capable. So be patient and let your primary schooler figure out their own maths homework, or your preschooler dress herself, even if it takes twice as long. The more new challenges your kids meet, the more confident they'll feel.
5. Give them responsibilities. Completing tasks successfully is a great confidence builder. Give your children responsibility for walking the dog, setting the table, or cleaning their rooms to help them feel more competent and build their problem-solving skills. Always praise them for a job well done.
6. Encourage them to help others. Whether it's helping a friend finish a classroom assignment or volunteering for a local charity, encouraging your children to give their time and energy to others teaches them that they have much to offer the world. Doing good for others is sure to make them feel good about themselves as well.
7. Praise their efforts. It's important to acknowledge your children's achievements and efforts, but don't go overboard. Kids are excellent at recognising false praise, so instead of telling them that their portrait of the family dog is destined for the Louvre, tell them that you really like how they drew his floppy ears.
8. Teach them to think positively. Thinking optimistically and having self-confidence often go hand in hand. When kids believe that things will work out the way they want them to and in their own power to affect their future, they're displaying self-confidence.
9. Work on developing their independence. Confidence comes from completing tasks and achieving goals independently, so support your child's independence by encouraging them to try new things, meet new people, and take thoughtful risks.
10. Set realistic goals. Help your children develop achievable goals for themselves. Maybe they want to learn to play an instrument, improve at a sport, or read a certain number of books. Make sure the goals are realistic, as only reaching them will help build confidence.
11. Make a list of strengths and accomplishments. By listing your child's best attributes, special skills, and accomplishments, you're teaching them to focus on the positive and celebrate their successes.
12. Offer unconditional love. Be vocal about your unconditional love for your children. When they know that they are loved and accepted, just as they are, no matter what, they have the foundation they need to grow into a confident child and adult.