Feeling confident helps children do well in all aspects of their life, both now and into the future.

Confidence is important for developing and maintaining good mental health as confident children are more able to build positive relationships, do better at school and become happier, successful adults.

Confident children are motivated learners

Children who are confident are motivated to engage in more experiences; they expect to have successful and positive experiences because they have done so in the past.

Children who lack confidence in their abilities can sometimes try to avoid having a go at some things and this can stop them from developing the skills they need to tackle tasks confidently.

Three ways to help children build their confidence

Kids develop confidence and a sense of independence when they see how others react to their abilities

Here are some ways parents and carers can help build children’s confidence:

1. Encouraging them to participate and have a go!

Encouraging children to have a go and valuing individual improvement is one good way to support children’s confidence.

Participation is less about winning and losing, and more about valuing individual effort, persistence and improvement.

It’s important to celebrate with children the experience of participating in something for the enjoyment it creates, rather than for a reward.

2. Supporting their self-esteem   
Confidence and self-esteem go hand in hand. It's important to help children feel positive and accept themselves the way they are, and see that they don’t have to be as good as everyone else.

Confidence improves through building on small successes, so make sure you celebrate your child’s improvements and successes.

When a child says he or she can’t do something that you know he or she can do, try not to get caught up in the attempts to avoid doing the task.

Instead, try and motivate the child by making the task fun and interesting. You might set a challenge to help make learning fun, for example: “I wonder how many spelling words you can get through in one minute?”

Reminding children of positive goals can also help them to keep trying, for instance: “Keep practising a few more times. Just think how proud you will feel when you are ready to perform in a couple of weeks.”

3. Dealing positively with disappointment
Children need to learn ways to deal with disappointment positively, and to feel good about their efforts - win or lose.

When children are disappointed, it’s easy for them to get into an “I can’t” or “I’m no good” mindset, which can chip away at confidence.

Parents and carers can help children focus on their own efforts and on achieving personal goals as the best way to measure success.

Here’s some good tips for helping children deal positively with disappointment:

  • Responding sympathetically and with encouragement (eg. “that was disappointing, but at least you had a go.”). 
  • Helping children focus on what they can change to make things better, rather than thinking that the situation is unchangeable or that there is something wrong with them (eg. “What can you try that might make that work better next time?”)
  • Challenging ‘I can’t’ thinking by showing and saying you believe in them and reminding them of what they have achieved.

For more information

Curiosity and confidence: Resources for families and staff