There are many recommended ways of building confidence in children. Child experts often have differing theories and methods, but many of them agree on the same basic principles for fostering self-esteem. Some examples of such ideas include treating children as individuals and avoiding labels, being a positive role model as a parent or other caretaker, and encouraging a child’s interests. Additional strategies to increase self-worth in children can include creating routines and giving children age-appropriate responsibilities, as well as promoting positive discipline by setting rules and having predictable consequences for breaking them.
One practice for building confidence in children is to avoid labeling. Common examples of labels generally relate to a child’s abilities or personality traits. Individual children, for instance, may be singled out as the smart one, the athlete, or the shy one. A typical result of such labeling is that children feel like they have to live up to the name, or that they feel like they are defined so narrowly that they cannot escape generalizations about who they are. Usually, labeling does not give them credit for who they are as individuals. One way to avoid labeling is to focus on individual actions or achievements, rather than assigning stereotypical traits to the child.
Another technique for building confidence in children is to be positive and encourage their interests, which gives them a sense of accomplishment and security in their abilities. One can emphasize trying things again if they do not succeed the first time. This can teach them about persistence and focus. It usually helps to start with small, attainable goals to build self-confidence. Child experts generally advise against excessive praise, however. Children might become anxious and feel like they have to perform at a certain level every time they do something, or they might expect accolades for every small task that they complete.
Building confidence in children can also involve trying to create routine. This is especially important for toddlers and young children. Children of all ages, however, tend to thrive on consistency and generally rely on their parents and other caretakers to help them make sense of their lives by providing them with dependable routines and rituals. The caretaker does not have to provide a child with an explanation of the whole day’s itinerary, but it often helps young children to know when to expect meals or bedtimes, for example. Another aspect of creating a routine is to give children responsibilities, such as age-appropriate household chores.
Setting firm rules and having consequences for breaking them is another tactic for building confidence in children. It can be confusing to them when one allows a child to do something once, such as stand on the furniture, and then punishes him or her the next time. Children who feel that they are lacking attention from their parents may act out in any way that gets attention. As a result, they will usually continue to misbehave if that is what gets the greatest reaction. Child behavior experts often advise parents to try to discipline a child proactively rather than reactively. In other words, parents might observe their child behaving well and praise him or her to reinforce the desired behavior.