A lack of confidence can impact on your child in a variety of ways. They may find it difficult to make friends, find social situations tough or they could struggle to make themselves heard in the classroom. In later life, low confidence can prevent people from getting jobs, make it difficult to find a partner and make life in general a lot more challenging.
If your child is suffering from a lack of confidence, acting now could help them to overcome their shyness and give them the self-belief they need to fulfil their potential. To help you help them, we’ve used our extensive experience of working with kids to come up with 10 ways to improve your child’s confidence.
Whether you’re eight, 18 or 80, exercise is essential for your physical and mental well being. If your child lacks confidence, getting them up and active will help them to feel more energetic and more motivated. What’s more, exercise releases endorphins. These make us feel happier and can contribute to feeling more confident. Getting your child involved with a team sport like football or netball, or a confidence-building activity like karate, will further enhance the benefits of exercise and they might make a few new friends while they’re at it.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is all part of feeling good on the inside and looking good on the outside. Healthy foods will help your child to feel more energetic and more alert. Try to avoid giving them foods that are high in sugar as this can contribute to mood swings, something that can make it harder for them to get along with their friends and feel confident in the classroom. There are loads of tricks and tips out there on how to introduce, or even disguise, healthy foods into their diets.
Give them the push they need
Though you don’t want to force your kids to do anything they really don’t want to do, encouraging them to push themselves and try new things will help to boost their confidence. We don’t mean sending them up in a plane for their first skydive, but things like joining a new class, going to a friend’s birthday party or talking to the waiter in a restaurant. Getting your kids to stand on their own two feet and overcome a range of challenges is guaranteed to be great for their self-confidence.
Know that everyone doubts their own ability
A lot of people who lack confidence and self-esteem think they’re the only ones. It’s important that your child knows everyone doubts their own abilities sometimes. If your child is going in for an exam and they feel like everyone else is cleverer than them, remind them that all their friends are probably feeling exactly the same way.
It’s ok not to be ok
No one feels confident and happy 100% of the time. Feeling sad, lethargic or unengaged is normal and you should encourage your kids not to feel bad about it. Having a few off days is to be expected, especially as kids face so many academic and social challenges every day. If your child is feeling down the majority of the time, however, or if they struggle to face everyday challenges, you may need to get them a little extra help to give them the tools they need to cope with growing up.
Treat others how you’d like to be treated
Something that can really knock kids’ confidence is struggling to make friends. If your child doesn’t have any close friends, they may well feel like they’re worthless or like there’s something wrong with them. You can help them to make friends, and improve their confidence levels, by teaching them how to interact with the other kids in their class. Make sure they don’t think it’s cool to become the class clown to mask their insecurities, instead teach them how to strike up a conversation and give them some tips on things to talk about.
Encourage them to treat other children how they’d like to be treated themselves. For example, if one of their classmates nervously gets up to sing or read in assembly, help your child to see that laughing at them or undermining them isn’t nice and that it doesn’t create a safe atmosphere. Instead, teach them to be supportive and encouraging. Then the next time they get up to do something in class, there’s a good chance the other kids will be on their side.
Rewarding your child when they’ve done something good is a great way to build their self-confidence and strengthen your bond. Something as simple as a pat on the back can make a big difference. Or if you have the time, why not plan a fun day out as a reward for especially good behaviour? Perhaps that skydive after all… Or you could just settle for an ice cream.
Goals help you stay focused, provide you with something to work towards and give you a sense of satisfaction when they’ve been achieved. All of these are great for improving confidence, so why not sit your child down and help them to come up with a few goals of their own? From putting their hand up in class to asking a friend over for dinner or running 5km to learning to ride a bike or drive a car, any goal your child sets themselves and achieves will help to improve their confidence.
If your child has taken up a new hobby or is trying to learn something new, there are always going to be days when they just can’t be bothered. Often, this lack of enthusiasm comes from fear, especially if they find the new hobby challenging. Try to get them to stick with it for as long as possible. If they really don’t like it after they’ve given it a good go, they can move on to something else. If you let them quit too easily, it will damage their confidence in the long run and may even make them feel like they’re not capable of achieving anything.
Failing is part of the process
Last but definitely not least, talk to your kids about how failing is all part of the process. After all, they say Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before he invented the light bulb. If he hadn’t failed all those times, he would never have created one of the most important inventions of all time. With their smartphones and games consoles they might not be impressed by the humble light bulb but it’s the principle that counts!