How can I build my child’s confidence and independence? 

Children often need help finding their confidence when they start mixing with others. Supporting your child with these new experiences helps them gain new skills.  

There are things you can do to help them develop self-esteem, confidence and independence. 

Benefits of self-esteem and confidence

Self-esteem is about whether you appreciate and value yourself.  Confidence is the belief in yourself and your abilities. When children have healthy self-esteem, they tend to be confident. 

Helping a child build their confidence can help with:  

  • Fear and anxiety. 
  • Motivation. 
  • Resilience. 
  • Relationships.
  • Feeling happy in themselves.  

    Focus on your child’s efforts

    Instead of just praising results, praise your child for working hard at something, or trying their best at a difficult task.  

    This encourages them to try new things and work hard.  It takes away pressure and helps prevent anxiety. 

    Help them praise and appreciate themselves

    If your child shows you something they’ve made, say things like “You must be so proud of yourself” or “I can see how proud you are”. This means children can learn how to become proud of themselves, which helps their self-motivation. 

    Make mistakes

    Let your child see when you make mistakes. This teaches them that making mistakes is normal. Show them how you learn from mistakes by fixing them.  Don’t tell yourself off by calling yourself silly or stupid.  Children pick up on this language, and then call themselves silly or stupid for making mistakes. 

    Give them opportunities to try out new skills

    Encourage your child to practise new skills in a safe environment. They could read to you, or explore new activities and hobbies. This builds confidence to try new things.

    Develop confident body language

    Playing games with your children that explore body language can help them build confidence around this. Showing emotions through our face and body can also help children to identify and understand these emotions. 

    • Staring contests or games like wink murder help practice eye contact.   
    • Family fashion shows can help children walk with confidence. 
    • Pulling silly faces can help them learn about facial expression.  

    Have fun practising the superhero pose with them.  Stand with your head held up and your feet apart and your hands on your hips. You’ll now be standing proud like a superhero. This can improve confidence and lower stress levels. Your child could try it when they are feeling nervous. 

    Practice choosing

    Let your child make choices. Help them understand that different decisions have different consequences.  

    Giving them the option of two choices helps them learn to make decisions.  

    You can start by offering a choice between two snacks, then build up to making bigger choices. You could ask them to choose what’s for dinner or where they want to go at the weekend.  

    If they need help, introduce options.  

    The more your child practices choosing, the more confident they will feel making decisions.  

    Help and contribute

    Give your child manageable age-appropriate tasks to help around the home. This helps them to learn valuable skills and feel they are contributing. Their growing confidence will encourage them to use these skills again.

    Solving their own problems

    Avoid fixing problems for your child, or giving them the answer to a question, right away. If they come to you with a problem, ask them how they think they could fix it. Guide them with questions like “What could you do?” or “What could you say?” Praise them when they find solutions. 

    Get more support

    If you want more advice on your situation, you can chat to one of our parenting coaches. 

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    This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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