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3 Ways to Build Kids' Confidence and See More Joy in Them

Follow these steps to help their self-esteem grow.

© Photo: iStock Encouraging your kids to play a sport can help boost their confidence.

By Dr. Deborah Ross-Swain and Dr. Elaine Fogel Schneider, Working Mother

Follow these steps to help their self-esteem grow.

Children today are brought up in a pressure-cooker environment with societal expectations to succeed and conform. From an early age, they’re subjected to messages to toe the line, excel and be the best. Both overt and unintentional messages from parents, teachers, coaches and others in a child’s life undermine confidence and joy, and can cause troubling behavioral issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in six children in the U.S. ages 2 to 8 years are diagnosed with a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. These alarming statistics may account for the dramatic 70 percent rise in youth suicides from 2006 to 2016. Clearly, young children need to be better bolstered with messages and qualities to make them resilient.

Too often, emphasis is placed on academic achievement or other mainstream metrics, with little concern for a child’s confidence and happiness. Each child has his or her own special talents and gifts. Parents need to ensure that, even if their children’s talents fall outside the mainstream of academic or athletic prowess, that they’re made to feel confident and successful in other ways. Confident children are resilient.

But when children experience failure on a regular basis, they’re robbed of their confidence and joy. Confidence and joy robbers can happen subtly, and can build up. When a child hears, “You need to try harder,” or “I’ve told you a hundred times,” or “Why can’t you behave like the others?” they eventually take the comments to heart. The child might make denigrating statements about him or herself: “I never get it!” or “I can’t do anything right,” or “I don’t belong.”

Confidence and joy are essential when it comes to the emotional and psychological development of a child. All children need to experience them to blossom into their full potential. It’s the responsibility of parents and other adults in children’s lives to help them grow from childhood to adulthood with confidence and joy in their hearts.

To ensure their child experiences confidence and joy, parents can adopt these key “A.C.T.” strategies:


A: Actively investigate your child’s skills and talents.

Parents need to be strategic about identifying what would be a good fit for involving their child in engaging activities. Observe him during his daily activities and routines. What does he want to do all the time? What comes easier for him than for others in the family? Recognize what brings him happiness, then provide opportunities to pursue activities that let him make use of his natural talents. For example, if you discover your child is outstanding at basketball, sign him up to be on a youth basketball team. Watch your child’s confidence and joy grow as he stops the opposing team from scoring, or shoots the winning basket.


C: Cultivate meaningful relationships for your child.

Because having stable and healthy relationships is so important to the well-being of a child and to experiencing confidence and joy, parents need to be very strategic and intentional in assisting their child in building positive relationships. Keep in mind that some children have to be taught how to “do relationships.” Parents can model healthy and meaningful relationships with their own friends and the people with whom they interact in their community. When the child is of preschool or school age, arrange play dates to help her interact with her peers, and help her learn how to navigate interactions with others.


T: Take the initiative to build communities of support for your child.

Parents will want to investigate which groups, activities or situations will be environments to best support their child’s confidence and joy. This kick starts the process of intentionally building a positive community within which the child can experience success. Seek out positive, supportive people to bring into the child’s life. Assist teachers, coaches, family members and other adults in understanding that confidence and joy are essential for all children’s overall wellbeing.

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Lifestyle Magazine: 3 Ways to Build Kids' Confidence and See More Joy in Them
3 Ways to Build Kids' Confidence and See More Joy in Them
Follow these steps to help their self-esteem grow.
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