How to Raise a Confident Child

Born with confidence but will it stay? Let’s help our kids keep it {and rock it!}, here are 10  ways to raise a confident child. 

1. Encourage exploration, imagination and experimentation.
Create and allow for opportunity for them to learn on their own and discover their surroundings. Limit screen time so they have to self-entertain and create fun for themselves rather than having a device doing the work for them.
Try to catch yourself if you notice you’re saying “be careful” too often and instead use this list of alternatives to help your child create their own safe boundaries.

2. Limit how often you use the word “no.”
There are times when no is necessary but more often than not rerouting them towards a positive choice works much better while keeping their confidence intact.

3. Stop saying good job.
Wait, what?! Did I read that right? Yes, yes you did. Trust me for a second. Good job is an easy compliment, too easy and that’s the problem. Imagine achieving something huge, like a job promotion and when you told your husband all he did was look up from his laptop and say “good job.” I don’t know about you but I’d be pretty darn upset or confused why he didn’t care more. Your kids achievements, no matter how small, are huge to them and they deserve some attention, more than just a quick “good job.” 
Instead replace good job with specific compliments. “I love how you used so many colors on your picture!” “Wow! How did you learn how to climb that high?” “I’m so impressed! It took a lot of determination to finish that puzzle.”

4. Speak words of affirmation {and be specific}.
Pay attention to their achievement and compliment them specifically. Especially noticing things they didn’t come and tell you about. “I noticed you helped your sister clear the table even though it wasn’t your night. That was very sweet and shows true character, keep it up!”

5. Show them you care about what they are doing.
Get down on their level and treat what they are doing as you would an important task. Ask them questions about what they are doing and why.

6. Teach them how to create goals.
Goals, both short term and long term ones, help create focus and then celebration and pride upon achievement. {Check out this great post on Making a Bucket List with Your Kid to help you get started.} And remember to allow them to dream big.

7. Assign them with age appropriate chores.
Chores allows for a sense of ownership, teach responsibility and ultimately create confidence in who they are as individuals. Assigning chores ahead of time and teaching them self management is your goal here. Some kids will need reminders and directions to begin, especially if chores are new to them. Eventually you want to get to the point where they are self managing, here are some examples of what you can say to help.
  • “I’ve noticed you’ve been doing a great job making your bed! What’s your plan for cleaning the toys off the floor?”
  • “Don’t forget the kitchen needs to be swept before dinner.”
  • “I’d love to watch a movie with you but remember chores have to be done first.”
You know your child best, figure out what works for your family, you can visit our Everything Parenting Pinterest board for more resources like chore sticks, chore bracelets and age appropriate chores.

8. Give them a confidence boost.
Pick one of their bigger goals and create opportunities for it to happen. An example would be if they need extra money for it to happen don’t just hand them a wad of cash, hire them to clean the house or wash the car for x amount of money or help them have a bake sale for the neighbors. With older children and larger goals they may have to do multiple tasks over multiple days to earn enough.

9. Help them become confident communicators.
A great way to help boost confidence in everyday communication is to work on public speaking. Public speaking practice doesn’t have to be done in front of a crowd, it’s more just about practicing talking with a little guidance. Kids’s Activity Blog has 3 awesome public speaking activities that we adore.

10. Have Confidence in Yourself.
You are a good mom, have pride in yourself. Another great commercial, if you have 3 minutes, is the Dove Beauty Sketch commercial. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth the watch on how you view yourself (remember this will effect how your kids view themselves). 

Things to do right now to help your child's self-esteem

Last Month, my son Adi made the school football team. Boy, was I proud. And I couldn’t stop saying so. “Great job, Well done my son! You’re the best!” I beamed, he beamed, and all seemed right with the world.

It’s not the first time my kids have heard me shout their praises. I’m the resident cheering section, their biggest fan, a back-patter extraordinaire. These days, you can find me handing out compliments as if they’re sticks of gum—when my kids practice chess, score a goal, help with dishes. The mom logic goes like this: The kid does good, so I make him feel great about himself. It’s called boosting self-esteem. Or so I thought.
1. Step back
As it turns out, there are better ways to build self-esteem than heaping on praise for everything kids do—starting with helping them become competent in the world. To do so, though, you have to learn to step back and let your child take risks, make choices, solve problems and stick with what they start.
2. Over-praising kids does more harm than good
Self-esteem comes from feeling loved and secure, and from developing competence, and although parents often shower their kids with the first two ingredients, competence—becoming good at things—takes time and effort. “As much as we may want to, we can’t praise our kids into competence,” he says.
In fact, by over-praising kids, we’re doing more harm than good. “We’re lowering the bar for them,”. “If you keep telling your child she is already doing a fantastic job, you’re saying she no longer needs to push herself. But confidence comes from doing, from trying and failing and trying again—from practise.”
3. Let your child take healthy risks
Start by forcing yourself to stand back while your child takes healthy risks, says Victoria Sopik, CEO of Kids & Company, a corporate childcare service in Toronto, and a mother of eight. “To build confidence in the world, kids have to take chances, make choices and take responsibility for them,” Sopik says. She sees too many parents trying to rescue their kids from failure all the time.
Sopik remembers staring from across the room as her two-year-old son, Fraser, lifted a huge jug of orange pop at a fancy party. “He was about to pour it into a glass, and I just stood there, holding my breath,” Sopik recalls.  Rather than trying to save her son before he had a chance to try, Sopik watched as Fraser spilled the pop all over the floor.
4. Let kids make their own choices
When kids make their own age-appropriate choices, they feel more powerful, says Sopik, pointing out that kids as young as two can start considering the consequences of their decisions. Sopik always let her kids decide on their own whether to wear a coat, hat and mittens in winter. “Once they knew the difference between warm and cold, it was up to them. They should have control over their bodies and take responsibility for their choices,” she says.
5. Let them help around the house
In building self-esteem, kids also need opportunities to demonstrate their competence and feel that their contribution is valuable, says Taylor. At home, that means asking them, even when they’re toddlers, to help with cooking, setting the table and making beds.
6. Encourage them to pursue their interests (fully)
Another surefire way to boost confidence in kids is to encourage them to take on tasks they show interest in, then make sure they follow through to completion. It doesn’t matter what the task—it could be anything from swimming laps to beating levels in video games. The point is for them to stick with what they start, so they feel that hit of accomplishment at the end.
7. What to do when children struggle or fail
What if your child’s self-esteem plummets when she gets cut from the gymnastics team or can’t memorize multiplication tables?
8. Don’t lose sleep over it
 “So many parents have it backward,” Taylor says. “They think struggles and failure will hurt their kids’ self-esteem, but it’s actually a golden opportunity to help build it.”
9. Make clear that your love is unconditional
Let your child know you love her even when she fails or makes bad decisions. If all you talk about is performance, Sopik points out, she will think you only love her for her report card or the lead she got in the play.
10. Make sure your child’s goals are within reach, at a level appropriate for his ability
That may mean suggesting he join house league, where he can feel like a star rather than being the last one picked on the AA team. MacLeod learned this lesson when her son, Alex, was in grade two. Feeling like a failure at reading, Alex was ready to give up when MacLeod brought home some Magic Tree House books, which were slightly below Alex’s level. “He read one every two days and was so proud of himself that he went on to read the Goosebumps series, no problem,” she recalls. Afterward, mother and son talked about how Alex’s choice to practise paid off, and she praised his perseverance.
11. Offer appropriate praise
Although praise is often misused, when it’s specific and earned, it is a valuable self-esteem builder, Taylor says.
Lorna Crosse, a former music teacher, remembers asking her choir students to keep a “brag file” full of praise they earned. Any time they saw their names in a program or newspaper article or received a complimentary note, they were to put it inside. “When the kids had a bad day, they would take out those words of praise and read all the neat things they had done, and it would make them feel better about themselves.”

Your self-esteem checklist

Here are some of the things that the Canadian Mental Health Association says you can do to help raise confident—not coddled—kids:

Feel special. It’s imporant for you to help your children discover their own unique talents and qualities, and to value their own strengths. But also teach them that feeling special doesn’t mean feeling better than others.

Set goals. Teach your kids to work towards a goal and to have pride in their accomplishments. Provide them with opportunities for success.

Try, try again. Encourage your children to try things their own way, face challenges and take risks.