If you’re wondering how to raise a confident child, you’re not alone.
Parents often tell me they’re concerned about their children’s lack of confidence and how it will affect their futures.
I know it’s painful to see your children struggle with self-esteem. They may shy away from challenges, dislike studying, or lack the courage to try new things. You might stress over how they’re maturing.
You just want your children to be happy and successful — to chase their dreams and live meaningful, fulfilled lives.
So, you want to raise a confident child, but where do you start?
Confidence is a skill. And like any skill, there are specific steps your child can take to build confidence. Plus, there are ways you, as a parent, can help.
In this article, I’ll walk you through 15 ways to help your child develop confidence. You’ll stop wondering how to build confidence in kids and start seeing your child’s self-assurance grow. Let’s get started.
What causes low self-esteem in a child?
Before we discuss how to raise a confident child, it’s important to understand the potential causes of low self-esteem.
Now, most children will experience dips in self-confidence from time to time.
Did your child start a new school? Move to a different city? Begin a hobby?
Each time children face changes, their confidence is put to the test. They must learn how to grow outside their comfort zones. When they navigate these challenges successfully, their confidence develops.
Sometimes, though, children struggle to overcome difficulties and external pressures. Negative messages stick. Issues at home and school become more challenging to manage.
This is when low self-esteem sneaks up, and smart kids might end up getting bad grades. Children might begin to believe they aren’t “good” enough — that they’re not deserving of their goals or interests.
When we know what causes low self-esteem, we can help our children overcome it. Here are a few potential explanations:
Comparing themselves to others
She’s so pretty. He’s so talented. Her life is perfect.
Is your child comparing, and is it helping or hindering growth?
Too much social comparison can cause children to feel inferior — as if they’ll never be as good as those around them.
Plus, in our age of information overload, children are bombarded with messages every time they look at their phones. Flawlessly curated social media feeds can lead to a “perfect storm of self-doubt”.
Increasing performance pressure
As children progress in school, performance pressure increases, too.
There are more tests, more extracurricular activities, more group projects, and more homework assignments …
Many kids feel like they can’t drop a single ball — even though they’re still learning to juggle the mounting responsibilities.
If you want to learn how to raise a confident child, prioritise the process over the outcome. This is a big topic, so we’ll explore process-oriented praise in more detail below.
Most children don’t want to disappoint their parents or teachers. Now, I know some of you with teenagers might find that hard to believe! But it’s true.
Even adolescents seek approval from authority figures. When teenagers believe they are continually disappointing the adults they respect, their self-esteem suffers.
How important is confidence as your kid grows up?
How essential is it to learn how to raise a confident child?
According to psychologist Carl Pickhardt, it might be one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
When children lack confidence, they are reluctant to try new things. They’re scared of failing and disappointing others.
“The enemies of confidence are discouragement and fear,” Pickhardt says. “So, as a parent, it’s your job to encourage and support your children as they attempt to tackle difficult tasks.”
Confident children know failure is okay, so long as they learn from their mistakes and try again. They build resilience and, ultimately, make strides towards their academic goals.
It’s okay if your child struggles with self-confidence. We’re not trying to “fix” self-esteem issues but rather provide tools that allow your child to face new challenges and opportunities.
15 tips for how to build confidence in kids
Now that we’ve discussed a few causes of low-self esteem and why it matters, here are my top 15 tips for how to raise a confident child.
1. Give them responsibilities
One easy way to foster self-confidence in children is to give them responsibilities. Try essential but straightforward tasks, things like helping you cook dinner or taking care of a younger sibling.
Children thrive when they have a role to play — when they know they are an integral part of the family.
Research by Dr. Marty Rossmann shows children who help out with household chores do better in school and are more empathic and caring.
Give your children jobs to take care of regularly, and they’ll become dependable, conscientious, and confident.
2. Share your own struggles with them
Everyone makes mistakes. As adults, we know this. But our kids are still learning.
You can help your children understand it’s normal to face challenges by sharing your difficulties with them.
Tell your kids about problems at work or with friendships. Let them know about the difficulties you face and, perhaps more importantly, what you’re doing to overcome these challenges.
Your children will begin to realise it’s okay to be vulnerable and that problems are not signs of weakness.
Brené Brown, acclaimed author and esteemed research professor, says it best:
“Through my research, I found that vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the magic sauce.”
Your children’s confidence will improve when they hear about your troubles. They’ll accept challenges as a normal part of life and know nothing worth doing comes easily.
3. Ask them for their opinion
When you ask others about their opinions, you let them know you care about their thoughts and feelings. So, if you want to learn how to raise a confident child, ask your kids for their opinions so they feel valued and respected.
Involve your children in reviewing their bedtimes, setting family rules, or deciding what’s for dinner. If you need to solve a problem, ask your kids for ideas! You might be surprised at how insightful they are, and how good they are at coming up with solutions.
When you ask your children for their opinions, they’ll start to feel like they’re not just a child or a teenager. They’ll believe they have the power to make an impact in the world around them.
4. Focus on the process, not the end result
Life isn’t about pursuing perfection. Instead, it’s about making progress.
We’re all continually learning new life skills. Success doesn’t mean getting things right the first time around. It’s about putting in the effort to show up day after day. To keep getting better, little by little.
It takes stamina, endurance, and tenacity to chase our goals and confront challenges head-on.
So, when you praise your children, focus on the process — not the outcome. Encourage your child by acknowledging the hard work that went into getting good grades and applauding improvements.
Your children will learn it’s okay to make mistakes as they continue to grow their confidence.
5. Don’t rescue them
It’s never easy to see our children experience hardships or difficulties. However, resist the urge to rescue them. It might make life easier in the short term, but it can create dependency issues later on.
The problem is this:
Rescuing your children from their struggles is like doing their homework for them. Your kids won’t learn the valuable life skills they need — traits like resourcefulness and persistence.
Instead, support and encourage your children to become responsible teenagers. Help them find strategies to solve their problems, but don’t do everything for them.
6. Ensure that the challenges are appropriate for their ability
What’s another tip for how to raise a confident child?
Help your children become more confident by giving them achievable goals. It’s okay to stretch them a bit, but ensure the task is manageable.
Think about a two-year-old. You wouldn’t give a toddler a pair of shoes with laces and expect them to tie them. Even with practice, a two-year-old doesn’t have the necessary fine motor skills. The task isn’t a good match for their abilities.
Here’s what I’ve learned from working with thousands of children and teenagers:
If the child succeeds about two-thirds of the time, it’s an appropriate challenge. Any less than that, the task is probably too hard.
7. Show respect to everyone
Children are constantly observing and learning from adults. They’ll treat people the way you do, so be kind.
If you show respect to others, regardless of income, social status, or body size, then your children will learn to do the same.
Model the behaviour you want to see in your children. Be intentional about demonstrating that character matters more than looks or popularity. Your children will learn self-worth does not depend on external factors. And while they’re respecting others, they’ll learn to respect themselves more, too.
8. Become a more confident person yourself
Since your children are always observing you, let them see you’re confident in your abilities.
Value positive self-talk. If your children hear you say you’re not good enough or that you can’t take on new challenges, they’ll start to adopt this mindset as well.
Instead, demonstrate you’re willing to go outside your comfort zone.
Maybe you have a presentation at work, but you’re nervous about public speaking. That’s okay. Tell your children you’re a bit fearful. Then, let them see you face those fears.
You can also use Tip #3 here by asking for your children’s advice. How would they deal with the challenge of public speaking? What do they do to calm their nerves when they feel anxious?
Your children will start to learn confidence is a skill, and you’ll grow together as a family.
9. Allow them to make choices
Many children have little control over their lives. We tell them what time to wake up, what to wear, what to eat, and how to schedule their days.
Here’s the problem:
Everyone feels powerless when they’re not able to make their own decisions.
When you give your children choices, they learn how to take responsibility for their actions and grow into confident adults.
Give your children choices in the day-to-day aspects of their lives. It can be as small a decision as choosing if they prefer a bath or a shower. It could be deciding what time of day they’d like to complete their homework, or which new test-taking strategies to learn.
These little choices add up to improve self-esteem. Try it and soon you’ll know how to raise a confident child.
10. Show interest in the things they’re passionate about
Does your child want to spend hours writing stories, drawing, or creating YouTube videos?
What might look like a waste of time to us can be an important activity to our children.
Yes, children need boundaries. But they also need encouragement to pursue their passions.
Show an interest in their hobbies. Maybe even try out a few for yourself! Your children will understand they matter and that your love for them is unconditional — not performance-based.
11. Celebrate small victories
Celebrating achievements and small victories makes us feel good. We realise how far we’ve come, and we feel inspired to take on challenges in the future.
When your children make progress or overcome a fear, celebrate with them. The best celebrations involve doing something together as a family, like having a picnic or going to the park.
Celebrate your achievements, too, so your children acknowledge your progress and learn from your victories.
12. Manage your own anxiety
When you’re anxious, your children become anxious — and this affects their confidence and mental health.
If you’re worried, analyse your concerns and identify which ones are rational and which ones aren’t. Then, make a plan to deal with your worries.
Managing your anxiety helps reduce your children’s stress. Plus, you’ll set a good example and they’ll learn how to deal with worries the same way you do. Demonstrate you can remain calm, and your children will develop this skill also.
13. Acknowledge their disappointment
Let’s face it: life is full of disappointments. You can’t shield your children from the discouragement they’ll feel at times.
Acknowledge that everyone has bad days. Let your children know it’s okay to feel sad, and that these feelings aren’t “wrong” or “bad”.
Don’t dismiss your child’s feelings. Instead, help them work through it. Be patient, and remind your child that life is about developing perseverance and mental strength.
Once they’ve processed their negative feelings, your children will realise they’ve grown stronger and become resilient students.
14. Help them to look outside themselves
Children and teenagers who struggle with self-confidence tend to fixate on themselves.
They’re so focused on their problems and their flaws that they forget to develop gratitude. Help your children look outside themselves and see the bigger picture.
After all, everyone has obligations, responsibilities, and commitments. Help your children empathise with those around them.
Once they understand life is about making a difference in the world and helping others, their mindset will shift. They’ll spend more time thinking about how they can contribute and less time on their insecurities.
As a result, your child’s problems won’t seem so overwhelming.
15. Do things with them, not for them
From as early an age as possible, encourage your children to do things independently. Try giving them simple tasks like:
- Making breakfast
- Getting drinks and snacks
- Preparing their backpacks for school
If your children are too young to undertake a chore like making dinner, get them to help by chopping vegetables and measuring ingredients. Or guide them as they follow a recipe.
This requires a lot of patience from you, the parent. However, over time, your child will develop confidence and a greater sense of responsibility.
Develop confidence one step at a time
When learning how to improve a child’s self-esteem, take it one step at a time.
Think about the behaviour and attitudes you model for your children, and make an effort to display confidence.
Give them responsibilities rather than rescuing them. Encourage them to treat others with respect. Get them involved in decision-making and celebrate their victories.
Before you know it, your children will be the confident, self-assured adults you always hoped they’d become!
Need more tips for raising confident children? Check out my free ebook: 16 Keys to Motivating Your Teenager. I hope you enjoy it!