Strengths Wall. One of my favorite ways to boost a child’s confidence is to make a visual for how they can see their strengths and successes. For many of us, out of sight is also out of mind. It’s far too easy to forget what we’ve done well when all we do is focus on the negative and many kids tend to do just that. So why not make their successes as visual as possible. The simplest way to do this is to pick a spot on a wall in their room, get a pack of post its (in their favorite color), and start putting one post it on the wall per day with something they did well that day. Before you know it, they will have a wall full of things they were great at. When the space becomes too full, take them down, put them in their nightstand, and start again.
Mirror Self Talk. It’s one thing to try to pump ourselves up in our own heads. It’s a whole other thing to say those statements out loud. When I’m working with a child who is struggling with low confidence or even anxiety, I will often have them stand in front of a mirror and we will practice brave talk while watching ourselves. Most kids start out with small and mousy voices but after a few tries, the tiny voice gets louder and louder and they start standing taller and taller. This can easily be done at home in front of the bathroom mirror. Don’t just encourage them to talk positively to themselves. Get more active with it. Stand in front of the mirror with them and take turns speaking as boldly and confidently as possible about how great they are or how brave they are going to be. And be specific! If they are lacking confidence about auditioning for a school play, have them practice saying “I will remember my lines” or “I will stand up tall when I am on stage.” The more specific the better.
Hidden Messages. Another fun way to boost your child’s confidence is to leave secret messages for around the house, in their bookbag or even in their lunch. Tuck a note under their pillow before they go to bed telling them something great they did that day. Draw a picture on the napkin you put in their lunch box with an ”I love you” written on it. Best of all, write them a postcard and mail it to them. Kids love getting something in the mail with their name on it.
Find an activity you can do together. Whether it’s boy scouts or taking a cooking class together, finding an activity that you can learn together is a great way to enhance the bond between parent and child. Nothing boosts a child’s self-esteem and self-worth more than having a parent who wants to spend quality one on one time together. I can be as simple as playing basketball in the driveway or as complicated as finding a new activity to learn together. If you’re not sure where to begin, observe your kid for a few days and see what they are interested in. Join them there first and show interest with them. That will open the door for many more activities to do together.
Encourage the effort and the details. Last but certainly not least, one of the most effective ways to boost a child’s confidence is to encourage their efforts. Most adults focus on praising a child’s success. Encouragement focuses on the effort they are making. Praise focuses on the end result whereas encouragement focused on the process and the details. When we notice how hard a child is working on their homework or all the different color details they are drawing in a picture, they begin to recognize their own achievements and are built up from the inside out. Confidence does not come naturally to all of us. However, when parents start early, they can go a long way in creating a strong confident foundation for their children to grow from.