Practical Tips For Building Confidence In Kids
As adults, many of us struggle with confidence given life’s challenges. We might have a fear of failure or rejection, and this can make it a difficult task to take risks or try new things. Those of us caring for children and grandchildren want to make sure they grow up to be happy, confident adults, free from these fears and ready to chase their dreams.
However, it’s normal to find yourself wondering, How do I build my child's confidence and self-esteem?
Luckily, we’ve found ways to make it easy—and fun—to help a young person find their inner strength. Follow these ten tips to build kids’ confidence to help them look forward to each new day with fearless self-love and mindfulness.
1. Understand What Causes Low Self-Esteem In A Child
If your child is a little shy and fearful, you may be wondering how big a role parents and other adults play in helping kids build confidence.
Any of the following could lead to low self-esteem in childhood:
Stressful life events (moving, parents’ divorce, financial struggle)
Difficulty in school
Poor treatment from a caregiver
Pain or physical illness
The good news? If you’re doing your best to provide your child with a safe, loving environment, you can help them learn to cope with stress from school or an extracurricular activity, and other life events. This can help boost their self-esteem now and in the future.
2. Praise Hard Work Rather Than Success
It’s normal to want to praise the child in your life when they get an “A,” or their team wins a game. Praise and accolades are a big part of positive parenting and positive reinforcement!
But counterintuitive though it may seem, some kinds of praise can backfire on building confidence in kids in the long run.
Studies indicate that kids who are constantly praised for winning or succeeding may have a harder time putting in the effort when a task is difficult to complete. It’s better to praise effort than ability.
Instead of saying “You’re so smart” or “You’re so gifted,” try out the following:
You must have worked so hard!
I’m proud of you for putting in the effort.
I know you did your very best!
This can encourage them to keep putting their best foot forward in the future.
3. Use Aromatherapy
If your child is having more trouble focusing on school or finding their center, bring in a little all-natural aid.
Essential oils can help them find calm, focus and energy. This can make them a great ally for study sessions, or even just getting ready in the morning.
Our favorite kid safe essential oils include:
Bee Happy – Combining uplifting Lemon, Sweet Orange and Grapefruit with calming Lavender and Douglas Fir, Bee Happy is the perfect confidence blend. It is a citrus essential oil that is specially formulated to help little ones find ease and joy.
Amyris– Sweet, woody Amyris is deeply grounding and relaxing. This can make it a great addition to your bedtime reading routine.
Basil– Bright, herbaceous Basil is actually an ancient ally for promoting confidence and calm. It can be especially helpful if your family is dealing with loss or sadness.
Bergamot– The aroma of citrusy Bergamot is at once energizing and relaxing, which makes it one of our favorite essential oils for studying and homework time.
Put your oil of choice in an essential oil diffuser whenever your child needs a little pick-me-up.
4. Let Go Of Your Own Perfectionism
Let’s tackle a big one: supporting children on their learning journeys.
If your child is struggling to develop certain skills or facing challenges in school, you may want to jump in and do the task for them. However, it’s important that children feel safe, free and supported while learning.
Remember the following principles for building a child’s confidence:
Learning should be fun. If your child is struggling to understand a concept, focus on small, digestible tasks that are easy to complete. There’s always more than one way to decipher a problem—try changing tactics if they’re not getting it, and be sure to avoid getting frustrated. Instead, show encouragement and positive reinforcement.
Don’t be controlling. Have a great idea for an award-winning science fair project? That doesn’t mean your child wants to conduct the experiment. Let them follow their own interests and instincts.
Don’t go overboard with corrections. It’s better for your child to turn in a paper with a few spelling errors than to get the message that their work isn’t up to par. If you must make corrections, show them one or two edits, and then see if they can finish making the corrections themselves. If not, don’t sweat it! They’ll learn in time.
Sometimes a short break is all that’s needed. A quick walk, game of catch, or even a quick power nap can have an incredible effect on problem-solving skills. It allows you to reset your brain and come at the problem with a refreshed enthusiasm.
5. Teach Positive Self-Talk
Do those viral videos of kids repeating daily affirmations bring you to tears as an adult?
There’s a reason why. Many of us are never taught positive self-talk as children. Instead, our mental scripts still tell us that we’re not doing well enough or working hard enough.
Helping your little one develop positive inner dialogue can help raise their self-esteem. The affirmations from this viral video are a great start:
I am smart
I am blessed
I can do anything
6. Listen To Their Feelings
No matter how much encouragement and support you provide a child, challenging feelings will come up. As adults, we know life has a way of ensuring that.
If you were ever taught to stuff your own feelings down, you know how much it can hurt to be told to “look on the bright side” or “think of others who have it worse”.. This makes you feel as though you’re not allowed to be sad.
Give your child the gift of a ready ear. If they’re feeling down or struggling with a friend, don’t tell them to move past the feelings. Instead, offer sympathy and encouragement.
Try out phrases like:
I know you’re upset, and that’s OK.
I’m sorry you’re feeling sad.
Is there anything else you want me to know?
I’m here to listen.
I will help you.
How much time do you make for having plain-old, silly fun with the child in your life?
With all the stressors on your plate, it may be easier to supply an iPad or TV screen and get back to your own chores.
However, play is an important way for children to express themselves, process emotions and get a little relief from the struggles and uncertainty of childhood.
Try making a little more time for daily play to show your emotional support and foster your child’s growth.
8. Let Them Try It Themself
Sometimes, we become “helicopter parents” or grandparents and want to make sure everything in our children’s lives goes right. From setting up play-dates to cooking elaborate meals and cleaning up afterward, we try to shower our children in love in the hopes that they’ll know we’re truly there for them. This is completely natural, and it stems from a good heart.
However, part of self-esteem is developing the confidence that we can do things ourselves. Giving our kids responsibility can help them to become more independent and self-reliant. This sense of freedom and responsibility is also a great way for children to learn how to improve creativity and problem solve.
Start giving your child small responsibilities like:
Picking out their own clothes
Helping a younger sibling or friend
Setting the table
Seeking out information with a search on a protected web browser
As children get older, a chore chart and allowance can help them learn self-motivation.
9. Help Them Deal With Failure
As painful as it is, your child will experience failure. How we process and deal with setbacks plays a significant role in our long-term success.
Sit with your child’s disappointments, and reaffirm how proud you are that they tried their best. Tell them you’re there to help them succeed the next time around— or however many tries it takes!
After all, life is about the journey, not the destination.
10. Have Confidence In Yourself, Too!
As a parent, grandparent or caregiver, you actually experience many of the same things children do—a desire to get it right and feelings of self-doubt or sadness when you don’t quite hit the mark the first time.
However, remembering that you, too, are trying your best can help you maintain self-confidence and positivity as you help the child in your life develop self-esteem.
Be the best role model you can be by practicing good self-care.
Grow Your Confidence Boosting Toolkit
Childhood plays a huge role in emotional development. However, there are always new ways to grow our emotional toolkits to help children better cope with stress, grief and other negative emotions.
Our essential oils for confidence are formulated with your child’s safety in mind. Keep an eye out for our “OK For Kids” label to identify oils that are safe for kids two and up and find the perfect oil or essential oil blend that can help you with raising confident kids.
- Sperling, Jacqueline. “How to Foster Independence in Children.” Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-foster-independence-in-children-2019110518223
- Shing, Xufen et al. “Effects of Ability and Effort Praise on Children’s Failure Attribution, Self-Handicapping, and Performance.” Frontiers in Psychology (2018). https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01883/full
- “Little Boy’s Daily Affirmations Go Viral.” Fox 5 Atlanta. 11 October 2019. https://www.fox5dc.com/news/little-boys-affirmations-go-viral