Captain Fantastic's top tips to promote confidence in Children

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Confidence and high self-esteem are both incredibly important for kids of all ages.  Confident kids find it easier to make friends, try new things and forge their own path in life. Confidence in children is also closely linked to self-esteem and happiness, with confident children more likely to believe in their own abilities and feel proud of their achievements.

While some kids might be naturally confident, others will need help and encouragement if they’re going to come out of their shell and really shine. Understanding how you can promote confidence in your children and boost their self-esteem will help you to create a supportive, nurturing environment and ensure your kids fulfil their potential.

Although there are no hard and fast rules about how to create confident kids, our extensive experience working with children has given us a number of key insights into the subject. As we believe that confidence and self-esteem are crucial to childhood happiness, we’ve drawn on our expertise and put together a comprehensive guide for promoting confidence in children.

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1. Create a Safe Environment

Like adults, children of all ages are more likely to feel confident in a safe and secure environment. Confidence often involves taking a leap of faith. For example, if you walk up to another child and ask to play or put your hand up in class to answer a question, you’re putting yourself in someone else’s hands and, occasionally, you may find you don’t get the results you were hoping for.

If you’re surrounded by adults who reassure and encourage you, and if you feel safe and secure in your environment, you’ll be more likely to take that leap and less likely to be badly affected if you fail. In the same way that you’re more tempted to jump off a climbing frame if there’s a nice soft landing below you, kids will feel more able to be confident if they have an emotional safety net to fall back on.

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2. It's OK to fail

Part of the process of creating a safe environment for kids to grow in is teaching them that it’s ok to fail. Failure is a big part of learning. Every time something doesn’t go according to plan, kids will take a lesson from the experience. If kids are afraid of failing, there’s a good chance they’ll be too scared to try new things or get out of their comfort zone.

Before any new experience, tell your kids that it’s ok if things don’t go as well as expected. Although it’s important not to make kids too worried about the possibility of failure, make sure they understand that it’s ok to fail as long as they tried their best. If you really want to get the message across that it’s ok to fail, you need to lead by example. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to try new things and talk to new people. If things go wrong, show your kids how easy it is to pick yourself up again and carry on.

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3. Set Goals

All children feel a real sense of accomplishment when they achieve a set goal. Whether it’s getting a certain mark in a test, attaining the next level on their favourite computer game or staying out of trouble in the classroom for a week or two, meeting – and even exceeding – their goals is great for self-esteem.

For this technique to work, you need to ensure that the goals you set are achievable. If you’re too ambitious, your kids are unlikely to meet the challenges you set and you may even end up knocking their confidence. If possible, sit down with your child and talk through potential goals together. Ask them what they think is achievable and then push them to go a little bit further. Set both short- and long-term goals so that your child’s confidence is being continually boosted.

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4. Support Passions

Supporting your child’s passions will not only show them that you care about their interests, it also gives them the opportunity to excel in something they’re good at. Whether your child is interested in karate, cooking, football, theatre or magic, taking the time to support their hobbies and take a real interest in their passions is great for confidence and self-esteem.

If possible, try to find related activities that you can do together. Bake cakes with your child, take them to local football matches or theatre shows or rent The Karate Kid for the weekend. It’s also important that you support their passions by attending their football matches, performances and tournaments and by making a fuss over anything they create in the kitchen.

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5. Give Praise When It's Due

Praise has a big impact on a child’s confidence. Even if you don’t realise it, every word of praise and support you give your child will have an effect. To help promote confidence and boost self-esteem, give your child praise whenever they meet one of their set goals or do something positive at school or around the house.

It’s also important to ensure you don’t criticise your kids when they make mistakes or fail at a given task. Even throwaway comments can really knock a child’s confidence, so remember that your words have power and use them wisely.

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6. Get Active

Regular physical activity has been shown to help ease anxiety, increase happiness and boost confidence. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins. These powerful chemicals help to make us feel happy and relaxed. Exercising on a regular basis will ensure you get the endorphin hits you need to feel as positive and as energised as possible.

If your kids aren’t currently doing a lot of exercise, increasing their activity levels may help them to feel happier in themselves. What’s more, feeling a little fitter and stronger is also likely to help your kids to feel their very best.

Try out a few different activities to find something your kids really enjoy. Dancing, martial arts, football, running, swimming and gymnastics are all great for growing kids, although anything that gets them up and moving around will help to boost endorphins.

As well as helping your kids for feel more physically confident, these activities will help to boost your children’s sense of achievement. Learning a new skill, making new friends and achieving new goals are all great for confidence and will make a big difference to your child’s self-esteem.

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7. Step Back

Few things promote confidence in children as effectively as learning to stand on their own two feet. Stepping back and giving your kids a little more independence can be a great way boost their self-esteem and encourage them to grow.

When you attend events and activities, try to let your child go off on their own to make new friends and explore the area (while keeping a careful eye on their movements). Let them socialise with friends by themselves and try not to interfere in their interactions. Although this may be tough on both of you at first, the more space you give your kids to grow, the more able they’ll be to navigate the world around them and the more confident they’ll become.

Eventually, your kids will be confident enough to stand on their own two feet in a wide variety of situations. And although they’ll always need your help and support behind the scenes, they’ll have the self-esteem they need to forge their own way in the world.

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8. Socialise

Socialising is incredibly important when it comes to promoting confidence in children. The more kids socialise, the more confident they become in themselves and in their ability to make friends and talk to different people.

Try to take your kids to various clubs, activities and parties where they’ll have the chance to socialise both with existing friends and new people. Try to avoid interfering in these interactions if possible as your children need to learn how to socialise with others independently.

It’s also a good idea to try to lead by example when it comes to socialising confidently with new people. Try talking to new people at events and parties in front of your kids to show them how easy and enjoyable it can be to make new friends. If you’re a naturally shy person, this can be difficult. However, it can have a big impact on how your kids perceive the world around them, so it’s well worth getting out of your comfort zone.

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9. Let Them Make The Decisions

Although it may be a little daunting to give your kids decision-making powers, placing your confidence in them, and giving them a little more control over their destiny, can be a great way to boost confidence. Before you start letting your kids make decisions around the house, sit down and talk to them about the responsibility involved with being in charge. It’s important that they understand you’re going to listen to their ideas and abide by their decisions on certain subjects, so it’s important they put plenty of thought into each conundrum before coming to a conclusion.

Start off with small decisions like the décor in their bedroom and their weekend clothing. Once your children understand that they have a say in these matters, you can build up to other decisions like what your family is going to do at the weekend and what you’re going to have for dinner.

As your children become more confident and comfortable with their new-found decision-making powers, you can begin to include them in more important discussions like where they’re going to go to school, what subjects they’re going to study and how they’re going to spend their free time. The more faith you put in your kids, the more belief they’re likely to have in themselves. This can be a huge boost for their confidence and is also something that will equip them for all the decisions they’ll have to make in the future.

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10. Help Others

Helping other people is a great way to make friends and boost self-esteem. If your child is particularly good at something, like maths, English or music, you could encourage them to help out any classmates who are struggling with the subject. This has the double benefit of showing your child they have a talent and giving them the chance to help others – two things that are great for confidence building.

Another good thing about encouraging your child to help other people is that it will help them to make new friends. People tend to be drawn towards those who are kind and helpful and so your child should find they’re increasingly popular with their classmates.

Again, you can help your child along by leading by example. Volunteer with a local charity, help out friends and family and make sure you’re always the first to offer strangers a helping hand when you’re out and about. As well as having a positive impact on the world, your efforts should show your kids how easy, and how enjoyable, it is to be helpful to others.

Working to promote confidence in children is an on-going process. Kids won’t change overnight, so you need to ensure that your efforts are consistent and persistent. However, after a few weeks, months or even years of encouraging their interests, creating a safe and secure environment and setting goals, you should see your kids begin to flourish into the happy and confident young adults you knew they could be.

If you’d like to find out more about promoting happiness and wellbeing in kids, or if you’re interested in celebrating your child with an unforgettable party, we can help. Explore the expert information on our site, or get in touch with a member of our team, to find out more.

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