Raising Confident Children by Emily Hasselquist, LCSW

Confidence can be a struggle for people of all ages.  Everyone has lacked confidence at some point in their life, whether during childhood, adolescence or adulthood.  Throughout my own childhood and adolescence, I remember hesitating to raise my hand in class for fear of giving the wrong answer and having everyone laugh at me.  I was always the shy girl in class.  For me, confidence came as a young adult when I realized I could be a role model to others.  Being a mentor to children and teenagers has shaped me into the confident adult I am today.

For children in particular, confidence is often shaped by their experiences and the world around them.  Poor self-confidence can negatively impact a child’s performance in school, friendships, and family relationships.  Children with low self-esteem may deal with feelings of depression or anxiety in more severe cases.  Helping your child develop confidence is essential, as it does not come naturally to all children.  The following tips can help in raising a confident child:

  1. Encourage Independence

Teaching your child at an early age to be independent is important.  Even very young children need to learn self sufficiency through tasks such as dressing themselves or helping with household chores.  Mastering these types of skills will give your child a feeling of accomplishment and promote self-sufficiency.  When mistakes are made, push them to try again. As children get older, encourage them to use their independence in public situations as well.  Having them order for themselves at a restaurant is just one example of how to work on confidence in social situations.

  1. Get Your Child Involved

Involving your child in sports or extracurricular activities is a great way to build confidence and enhance their social skills.  Becoming skilled in a particular sport or activity is an easy way to boost your child’s confidence. Losing can be tough though, so it’s important to talk to your child about being a good sport and emphasize that having fun does not always mean winning the game. Strengthen your child’s self-esteem by praising their efforts and pointing out what they did well.

  1. Teach Assertiveness

The last thing parents want is to have their child be considered either the bully or the child that other kids take advantage of or tease.  Help your child find the middle ground by teaching them to be assertive.  Assertiveness is a skill that even adults struggle with.  Encourage them to speak up when they feel they are not being heard or treated unfairly.  Teach them to begin sentences with “I feel” rather than starting off by blaming the other person.  Standing up for what they believe in can be a great way to build confidence.

Confidence does not just come from praising your child, and offering words of encouragement.  It comes from mastering new skills, learning from mistakes, and getting used to not having you by their side at all times.  Encouraging independence, getting your child involved, and teaching them to be assertive are just a few suggestions on how to raise a confident child.

If you are concerned your child may be struggling with their own confidence, the staff at Gurnee Counseling Center can help.  Please contact us at 847-336-5621 for further information.