“Wouldn’t we all love our children to have positive self-esteem and healthy self-confidence? How can parents help to build confidence in their child before they make that first big move into an early school environment?”
The first thing to know is that there are many things that parents can do to build confidence in their child. A loving environment, interested (and patient!) parents, lots of encouragement and excitement when a new skill is learnt or a positive effort is made and positive reinforcement are just some of the ways that parents can help a child to build confidence, character and resilience.
There are a lot of ways that parents can help to build up self-esteem and confidence within their children. However, learning about why self-confidence is such a crucial contributor to sound cognitive and emotional development and for success throughout life is also important to understand.
Self-confidence means that children believe in their own abilities and capabilities. Due to this, self-confident children are more likely to challenge themselves in a learning environment. Self-confident children also trust in their ability to master their behaviour, learn new skills and tackle obstacles. They’re also more likely to get along with others and respond positively to social environments where sharing and taking turns are involved.
But self-confidence also doesn’t happen by accident.
Babies aren’t born with a sense of self and an understanding that they are distinct beings. To a large degree, a child’s sense of confidence, their character and their resilience—all of which are key qualities for personal growth and are inextricably linked to one another—are shaped by their interactions and experiences with others around them.
In most instances, parents are a child’s first teachers. Children learn how to deal with the world around them by what they experience at home. For this reason, there are plenty of ways that parents can help build their child’s self-confidence and set them on the right path for success at early school and beyond.
Establish routines with your baby or toddler
Routines help a child to feel safe and secure and allow a feeling of control. Whether it’s a bedtime process involving getting into pyjamas, teeth-brushing and reading a story or an afternoon nap which is preceded by lunch, clean-up and a puzzle activity. A structured, predictable day will allow your child to navigate and explore the world without worry. What’s more, experts also say that toddlers with routines adjust better to stressful or unexpected situations.
Lead by example
Children will pick up a confident mindset from a parent, so it’s important to be a good role model. This will involve a huge range of things, such as keeping your emotions in check, moderating your responses to situations, being persistent in overcoming obstacles, verbally demonstrating how you cope with strong feelings or tricky challenges, being optimistic and indulging in positive self-talk.
Create opportunities for play and learning
Children learn about themselves, about others and about the world around them through play, so if you provide your child with plenty of opportunities for playing, exploring, discovering their interests, solving problems and tackling challenges, then you’ll be laying a strong foundation for building self-confidence.
Develop self-help skills at an early age
Confidence is linked to competence, so if you can give your child responsibilities (such as picking up toys, help feeding pets) and empower them to figure out problems for themselves, you’ll be setting them up well for a successful entry into early school. They’ll feel useful, important, successful and valuable—and of course, more confident.
Don’t overpraise—rather, recognise effort and improvement
Showering your child with praise won’t build confidence. In fact, experts say that over praising and evaluative praise do more harm than good. Children need to discover and learn those things that give them personal enjoyment and fulfilment, and not just do those things that will please their parents. Similarly, comparing a child to others is detrimental to their confidence and self-esteem.