How to help your child build confidence

Self-esteem and confidence are things that children build over time. As they grow and acquire skills, it’s important for them to trust their capabilities, as well as to feel safe and secure if they aren’t successful at some of the things they try. Here are some tips on helping them to develop confidence.


Model confidence

Being open to trying things for the first time with your child provides an important model for them. If you’re feeling nervous or anxious about it, acknowledge this, but approach the new activity with optimism. If you fail, don’t get upset, but instead let them see you take it in your stride and either try again or tackle something different.


Praise perseverance

Allowing kids to have space to fail is important, as this will help them to dust themselves off and try again. It will also help them to discover a way of achieving a task that works for them - which may be different from how you might achieve it. If they are attempting something that requires practise, praise their perseverance as well as their success, as it will encourage them to be resilient and will help them not to get distressed by failure.


Explore confidence through stories

Stories help children to make sense of their world - both inside and outside. Picture books such as Rachel Bright’s The Lion Inside enable kids to understand that everyone feels scared sometimes, and give them the chance to explore their own feelings of fear and courage. This can in turn help them to feel more confident when experiencing unfamiliar or potentially scary situations. You can use your child’s chosen story to open a discussion about when you or your child has found confidence in an unsettling situation. 


Give them choice

Allowing children to choose helps them to feel empowered over certain aspects of their life. Whether it’s something small like choosing their pyjamas before bedtime or something bigger like being able to choose what they have for dinner at the weekend, choice can give children a feeling of control and encourage them to make decisions for themselves. With preschoolers, remember that they can become overwhelmed by too much choice, so keep the range of options smaller.


Explore their interests

Encouraging children in their interests and exploring new things together can help them to develop their own identity. This is an essential part of building confidence. Studies show that extracurricular activities (those that kids undertake outside the classroom) can improve self-esteem - especially for those less academically inclined. Of course, if they are seeing their abilities grow through their chosen activity, this will help their confidence too.


Embrace imperfection

Part of confidence is being comfortable with your own imperfections. As children grow and become more liable to compare themselves to others, remind them that we are all different and explore or achieve things in our own way. Acknowledge some of your own imperfections without speaking negatively about them to help your kids see that you’re comfortable and confident despite your faults.


If your child is looking for a lion inside and you want to help them, Rachel Bright’s tale is a great way to explore the themes of fear and confidence. Now a stage show, The Lion Inside teaches youngsters that even the boldest individuals get scared and even the smallest creatures can find their inner lion. Book tickets today at a theatre near you.