Raising Self-confident Children: How and Why It Matters

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Arthur Ashe, the tennis legend, said it best: “One important key to success is self-confidence.” Self-confidence, or the belief in your ability to accomplish a goal based on your experiences, is an important but often overlooked value to have and to build on, especially for children. More often than not, confident people are more likely to succeed in life.

Why should you build your child’s self-confidence? Here are more reasons to:

1. More resilience to failure

Confidence is not just knowing whether you can succeed in doing a task or not. It is also knowing your limits and weaknesses and working on how to overcome them. Confident people are those who bounce back faster, assess the situation and think of solutions, and work on overcoming these setbacks. They are the people who do rather than think. In other words, confident people are more resilent because they are more aware of what they need to do to succeed.

2. Less fear and anxiety for life

Low self-confidence and low self-esteem are often linked to depression and anxiety. Although there are many factors that influence low self-confidence and low self-esteem, life experiences—the child’s environment, nurturing, and education—are more often than not a huge part that can make or break a child’s self-confidence. Boosting self-confidence and self-esteem can help with preparing them for the grueling real world. Confident people are less anxious and less afraid of living because they are more prepared for what the world throws at them.

3. More motivation to succeed

Having high self-confidence and high self-esteem has been linked to having more initiative and motivation to succeed and being happier and more satisfied with life. Because people with high self-confidence believe in themselves more easily and are more resilient, they tend to motivate themselves to grow and develop themselves on a personal level.

4. Great relationships with people

Confident people are more in tune with their personal strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities. Because they are very aware of themselves, they are able to navigate social interactions with more ease, which in turn gives them more opportunities and chances to venture out and find more successes.

Now that you know why you should build your child’s self-confidence, the next step is wondering how you can actually build it. Here are some helpful suggestions:

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1. Stop comparing your children

It may be easy to push your children to do better by comparing them to one another because a little competition won’t hurt anyone. Although healthy competition can be a good external motivator, more often than not it can be detrimental to a child’s self-confidence, especially in the long run. Instead of comparing your children, you should focus more on their own strengths and support them.

2. Take care of their bodies

Self-confidence can be affected by one’s physical health and appearance. Think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basic human needs such as food, water, and clothing are the first step to self-actualization. Building and establishing healthy habits, such as having a regular sleep schedule and eating healthy and nutritious food, are a great way to start building up confidence.

Also, being able to keep up a neat and tidy appearance is far from being vain. Studies show that looking confident actually helps build self-confidence. It can also be a good way to explore certain skills such as learning how to cut their own hair using hair shears or putting on their own makeup.

3. Encourage them to explore different activities

Confidence, as stated earlier, is born out of the life experiences of an individual. Instead of hovering over their every step, why not let them explore what they can or cannot do? Encourage them to try out different things—from giving them more doable tasks that fit what is expected of their age group, letting them have structured plays, to letting them play in an open playground—so that they may know their limits and capabilities early on.

4. Give constructive criticism instead of praise

We often think that praise is the easiest way to boost a child’s confidence. However, freely giving praise, especially “generic” praises such as “Good job!” and “You’re doing great, sweetie,” without being specific, could backfire. Instead of praising them for personal qualities or giving them general praise, it is better to praise them for specific situations and efforts.

For instance, instead of telling your child, “You’re so smart!” for acing that math quiz, why not tell them, “Your studying has paid off! Great job!” That way, they know what they have done right. They also know that your love is not conditional on their successes.

Self-confident kids grow up to become more successful people. Build their confidence early on to ensure a better and more successful future for them.

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