Confidence and high self-esteem are significant advantages for anyone – children and adults. It is often a factor of success in both personal and professional relationships. However, as anyone can attest, raising confident kids is often easier said than done.
Building confidence in kids can be challenging, especially when they are naturally shy and introverted. And relationships with peers can be difficult to manage. However, here are ten tips to teach you how to raise a confident kid.
What Is Confidence for Kids?
Confidence is that internal mechanism. It is a belief in one's worth and value that manifests in many ways, including:
- Believing in oneself;
- Having healthy self-esteem;
- Exercising resilience;
- Fortifying the concept of “right and wrong” behavior;
- Allowing for new positive experimental experiences.
At Hot Ground Gym, there is no better feeling in the world than watching young kids develop their confidence class after class. We see this in several ways, but it is most prevalent during our “Missions” (team-building activities).
We know how to build children’s self-confidence: Through collaboration, cooperating, and helping them lead each other through fun and interesting challenges. There's no doubt a confident kid becomes a successful adult.
What Causes Low Confidence in a Child?
Confidence is fragile. A kid's environment and relationships play a big role in building their self-worth. Here are some frequent mistakes parents make that can sabotage a child's confidence.
- Don’t compare kids to friends or siblings: “Why can’t you be more like…?” can be harmful even for confident children. Praising kids works better. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and comparing a child to another is apples to oranges. To build confidence in kids, you should praise them for their accomplishments - even the simplest ones, like learning a new skill.
- Don’t give non-constructive criticism: If you notice some areas your child could improve – and who does not? – give them ideas about what they can do and why rather than empty criticisms. Remember, the messages kids hear affect their confidence. Don’t forget to congratulate them when you see them working hard!
- Don’t set unrealistic goals: A child lacking confidence will be overwhelmed and discouraged when facing unrealistic expectations. Start small and build your way up to help them believe in themselves as they reach new heights.
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Activities to Build Self-Confidence in a Child
Children with low self-esteem or limited self-confidence can greatly benefit from acquiring a growth mindset, which entails believing in the potential to develop intelligence and talents over time.
Conversely, a fixed mindset assumes that intelligence is unchangeable, leading one to believe that inadequacy in a particular area is permanent. Below are some activities to help your child cultivate a growth mindset and boost confidence to embrace life's challenges.
#1. Physical and Mental Training
As children develop and grow, they should participate in healthy activities, such as fitness classes for kids, to keep them active and challenge their thinking.
Does working out build confidence? Yes, we have seen that a child who participates in some form of physical training activity increases their sense of self-worth over time. This is due to the ‘hardships’ endured during months and years of training sessions. That experience will give them a “feeling” to rely on when encountering their next challenge.
The selected physical activities to build self-esteem in a child should be well-rounded and/or supplemented to include basic exercises, weight training for older children, some cardiovascular exercise, and the occasional “out of the box” training session (for example, swimming in the lake for a training session).
Mental training is just as important as physical and could be as simple as researching a subject they’re interested in, to as advanced as creating content on a subject (writing, filming, posting, etc.). It is a great practice to always encourage mental sweat, just as the physical.
#2. Life Lessons
The wiser a child is, the more confident they will become. You should give life lessons to your children as often as possible. Appropriate subject matter wisdom will give your child answers to questions they haven't yet asked.
Examples are, teaching them to clean stuff (properly), use tools, operate different gadgets and machines, how play sports, how to make a fire or put it out, and so on.
The more big and small lessons we teach our children, the better. But don’t overload them. Squeeze in the occasional lesson, especially when it’s related to what’s happening at present.
If a child can associate a lesson with an experience, they are more likely to remember it than if they just heard or read it in an academic setting. An example is making a fire. They will learn and remember better if they practice making a fire instead of just reading about it.
Now, of course, all wisdom cannot be imparted in a practical application setting, but you should always try to take advantage of the ability to offer “real-world lessons” to your child. The more wisdom a child has, the more likely they are to be confident kids.
#3. Importance of Imagination
Children (especially younger ones) need to exercise their imagination. Confidence-building games for kids start with make-believe. Children whose imaginations are exercised regularly are prone to be deep thinkers later in life and will have increased creative confidence.
Not only that, a child’s imaginary play could start them thinking (maybe even subconsciously) about what they would like to be later in life. As long as the child’s imaginational expression is positive, it should be encouraged.
#4. New Experiences
Children’s confidence grows as they are exposed to more positive life experiences. The more well-rounded a child’s knowledge base is, the more confident they will be. Adaptability in various social settings is vital to a healthy emotional state in children (and adults).
If you can afford it financially, there is no better thing to spend your money on than your child’s ability to gain experiential knowledge. Take them to the movies, the park, restaurants, obstacle courses, indoor skydiving, museums, the woods, the lake, a boat, a train, and so on.
Include them in the planning phase of the activity if possible; this will make them even more motivated and excited to try something new.
#5. Self-Esteem Journal
Journaling allows kids to explore their thoughts and emotions, fostering a grateful mindset and facilitating the journey of self-discovery as they gain confidence in themselves.
You can create your template on a sheet of paper using the following suggestions (feel free to customize or rotate prompts weekly):
- Five things that brought me peace today;
- I feel utmost pride in myself when;
- The most memorable moment of my day was;
- My most outstanding personality trait is;
- Five small victories I achieved today were;
- I enjoyed.
These prompts ignite positive responses, setting them apart from regular day-to-day journaling. Encourage your child to journal even on challenging days. When building confidence in children, it's important to remind them that no matter how tough things may seem, there is always something good to be found if you look for it.
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#6. “I Am” Activity
Other activities to boost children's confidence include the "I am" game. Invite your kids to create a visual representation of themselves by drawing a picture or attaching a photo at the center of a sheet of paper or poster board.
Encircling the picture, they should write down various roles that define their identity (such as son/daughter, sibling, student, soccer player, friend, etc.). This activity encourages self-reflection on their identity and self-image while providing an opportunity to acknowledge their positive attributes.
#7. Mirror, Mirror What Do You See
Body shaming and a negative self-image are genuine challenges that children and adults face. Empowering our kids to embrace and love their bodies, regardless of appearance, is important.
Encourage your child to stand in front of a mirror. Let them take 20 seconds to observe themselves. Then, ask them to name three things they see that they genuinely appreciate about their appearance.
Additionally, you can share three things you love about them.
These positive self-talk activities build children's confidence and cultivate self-appreciation, helping them recognize and celebrate their unique beauty. Practice this exercise regularly to provide consistent reminders of their wonderful qualities.
Additional Ways to Build Confidence in a Child
As a parent, Your responsibility is to provide guidance, not interference. This means that when your child faces a challenge, it's important not to hand them a ready-made solution. Instead, engage them with thought-provoking questions or encourage them to explore alternative approaches.
Here are more ideas to build a child's confidence and cultivate healthy self-esteem.
#8. Be an Example
How you interact with your child is the foundation for how they will grow up. Establishing a strong and lasting bond can start easily enough by sharing your interests with your child.
For example, if you are an outdoors enthusiast, you can take your child to explore the outdoors. Teach them big and small lessons. For example, a big lesson might be, “We are leaving to go outdoors for the day; what do we need?” Directions, Water, food, backpack, rain gear, etc.… A small lesson might be, “Which way does the sunrise and set, which direction is that?”.
This idea can be used for any interest or hobby you have. Sharing it with your child will be fun for you and them. Also worth mentioning is the knowledge sharing and memories you will create together that will boost your child’s confidence in you.
#9. Teach Them about Bravery and Integrity
“Courage is never exercised in comfort, but instead is the mechanism for overcoming fear”. Military veterans who have served in combat will tell you, "I was always afraid, but we still had a job to do, and I wouldn’t let my team down”. It is that feeling at its highest example that should be cultivated in children. Of course, without the actual “military” aspect.
Wondering how to raise a confident child? Children should be taught that it is natural and OK to feel fear; every human being does, at some point and for some reason. However, it is our reaction to that fear that makes us brave.
A resilient child who can mitigate stress reactions to fear at a younger age will have a leg-up over others who have not. For example, fear of trying something new or meeting new people can be overcome by the understanding of “maybe.” Maybe I will meet someone cool and learn something helpful; maybe it will be fun or good for me. Fear is conquered by “I have to, and/or maybe.”
Next is integrity. In the military, they taught us that integrity is “doing the right thing, especially when no one is looking”. We believe that integrity goes hand-in-hand with courage. Why? For example, “This is wrong, and I/they should stop behaving like this”.
That phrase is probably the most important example of bravery in a developing child, leading them to be aware of right and wrong. Establishing a “moral backbone” as they get older will increase a child’s confidence in themselves, their family upbringing, and life.
#10. Encourage Good, Positively Redirect the Bad
To encourage is to support, assist, or celebrate successful attempts or completions of a task. This is super important with children lacking confidence. Positively nudging a child forward is vital for easing their uncertainty, facilitates accountability, and renders your acknowledgment of their attempts and/or achievements.
We lose sight of this when a child gets off task or exhibits negative behavior. At some point, all children will behave “negatively”; our job as parents and/or teachers is to redirect their behavior back on track while being as positive and supportive as possible. If you fixate on the negative, they will too. So we nudge forward, overly celebrate the good, and positively redirect the bad.
This idea has been shown to provide children with superior coping skills when it comes to stress management and will increase a child’s self-esteem compared to a child that is not encouraged and positively redirected.
#11. Nurture Independence
Every child yearns to be independent of their parents. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The more a child can be independent, the better, within reason.
Independence in small tasks at a younger age has been shown to increase the developmental speed of fine and gross motor skills and emotional intelligence. Once you have confirmed your child can complete a task correctly, trust them to do it themselves. Allowing your child to lead you and other friends in accomplishing tasks will boost their self-confidence.
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#12. Nurture Their Special Interests
Finding an activity they enjoy and can become good at is an excellent way to raise confident children. It may take some guidance and experimenting before your child can find an interest that allows them to thrive. It is also a good idea to encourage them to stick with an activity even if they feel discouraged: overcoming difficulties is essential to raising resilient children.
#13. Allow Them to Lead
Possessing the ability and opportunity to lead others in any capacity is perhaps the most confidence-inspiring action a person can do. True leadership traits are confidence, intelligence, virtue, resilience, integrity, and physical strength. Leading others awakens things inside of us.
We as humans are natural teachers (most of us). It is deep in us at a molecular level to teach the younger ones, so they may survive and continue the species. Allowing your child to lead you and other friends in accomplishing tasks will give their self-confidence a huge boost.
Have them practice by teaching you how to tie your shoe, do a chore, brush your teeth, etc. These small “hip pocket classes” that your child can give you will increase their confidence and let you know if they are conducting a task correctly.
Sometimes your child may teach you the wrong way to do something; in that case, we would refer you to number 4 “Encourage good, positively redirect the bad”. Let them practice taking charge now so that later in life when they can lead others, they may accomplish something great.
#14. Encourage Persistence
By fostering a resilient and determined mindset, children learn to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. They develop the belief that their efforts and perseverance can lead to achievement, empowering them to tackle obstacles with resilience and determination.
Building self-esteem in kids through persistence cultivates problem-solving skills, develops a strong work ethic, and enhances self-confidence. They understand that setbacks are not permanent roadblocks but stepping stones on their personal and academic growth journey.
Encouraging persistence in children equips them with essential life skills, shaping them into resilient individuals who are ready to take on any challenge that comes their way.
#15. Ask for Their Advice or Opinion
Asking your kids for advice and opinion shows them you value their thoughts and ideas. It allows them to make age-appropriate choices and helps them to feel like they are a part of the decision-making process. When kids feel like they are being heard and respected, they are more likely to feel confident in themselves and their abilities.
#16. Shower Them with Hugs
Showing your child physical affection can increase their self-confidence by providing them with a sense of security, acceptance, and unconditional love.
It communicates to your child that they are valued and loved unconditionally, reinforcing a positive self-image and creating a foundation from which your child can confidently explore the world.
Physical affection also allows your child to establish essential connections to people in their life; this perfect balance between attachment and autonomy is critical for their development.
#17. Show Unconditional Love Everyday
Our perception of our kids (or the perception they believe we have of them) significantly influences their self-perception. It is crucial to communicate to our children (or students) that we love and care for them unconditionally, even when they make mistakes or poor decisions. Avoiding harsh criticism or shaming is essential in creating an environment of support and acceptance.
Signs of a Kid's Behavior Parents Should Look out For
You know your children well, but it is easy to miss signs that they may lack self-esteem. An optimistic child at home may be shy in unfamiliar settings. Be attentive if you notice the following about your kids' self-esteem:
- Your child compares themselves with others negatively;
- They are overly critical of their appearance and abilities;
- They have an unhealthy sense of competition;
- They are unusually moody.
Now that you know how to build self-esteem in children, you understand how providing an environment conducive to self-confidence is vital. And that’s one of the best qualities of Hot Ground Gym. Our facilities grow character and physical strength.
Contact us today if we can help in any way, whether it is getting over a fear of heights, social settings, “working out”, or the dark. We use a range of confidence activities for kids to help children grow into healthy adults that are well-adjusted and independent yet cooperative.
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