There is no greater gift we can give our children than the ability to hold their own in any given situation, speak with their true authentic voice and, to pick themselves up, brush themselves off, and start again when things don’t quite go to plan. These qualities together make up Confidence, which has been shown to be the single biggest predictor of success in life; yet it’s often overlooked.
A child doesn’t have to be an extrovert to be confident. Confident children are simply comfortable in their own skins, and believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to. They understand their strengths and the areas which they have to work on, and are accepting of where they are now. It is these two traits which allow them to cope better with academic and social challenges. Here are three proven ways you can boost your child’s confidence:
Praise their efforts
Research by Carol Dweck and David Yeager has shown if children understand intelligence and social success are not fixed character traits but ones, which can be changed with effort, they develop a Growth Mindset which leads to better academic success, less anxiety, and better friendships. A good starting point is to teach your children about the brain, and to explain it is a muscle which gets stronger with exercise. I use a traffic light system to explain to children when they first learn a task they can feel ‘stuck on red’ as they need to stop and think about every little step in the process, and ask for lots of help. With practice they move onto amber, as they probably need a little help to get started, yet once they get going they can probably work through the task on their own. With enough practice they move onto green, which is ‘go’; they are confident enough to do the task on their own without any help and they are ready to teach someone else how to do it. As parents we can encourage their efforts by praising our children for practicing their spellings, rather than the number they get correct, for trying very hard to learn their timetables, even if they don’t answer them all correctly. This way we teach them to enjoy learning for its own sake.
Encourage them to solve their own problems
Confidence comes from believing you are capable of looking after yourself in a number of different situations. Next time your child comes to you with a problem from the playground, instead of offering a solution, ask them what they think they could do. You will be amazed with the ideas they will come up with, and they will feel more capable of dealing with the situation themselves. You can use the same approach when your child finds their schoolwork tricky. Sit next to them and ask what they could do to make sure they can complete the work. Your child doesn’t necessarily have to come up with the right answer, it’s the process of thinking through which is important. You can always offer some advice too, but not until your child has given you some ideas first.
Give them choices
Wherever possible, allow your child to make choices. “Do you want to eat carrots and peas, or broccoli and carrots?”, “do you want to do your homework first, or change out of your school uniform?”. Giving children choices allows them to feel more independent and in control, which ultimately boosts their confidence.