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Five ways to boost your child's self-confidence

Lucy Quick is co-founder and Principal of Perform and has over 20 years' experience working with children. 

Perform's weekly classes for
4-7 and 7-12 year olds, are specifically designed to boost your child's confidence, improve their concentration and give them a creative outlet to make friends and have fun. Perform offers FREE trial sessions at all its venues across London, the South and West of England. Find your nearest online.

Some children are naturally positive, happy and confident little souls, who have no problems making friends. Sadly however, many are plagued with self-doubt and negativity.

Over the years teaching, I've come into contact with dozens of worried parents who tell me that their children often put themselves down, saying things like "I'm no good at anything!" or "No one likes me". These children tend to be shy and introverted and often seem unhappy. It's very upsetting for the child and of course, the parents. But if your child is feeling like this then there are things that you can do to help.

How small things add up

Often children who lack self-confidence are particularly sensitive. Feelings of inadequacy can be easily exacerbated and even small, seemingly inconsequential incidents can reinforce this mindset. A silly throwaway comment like "You're so clumsy!" said in the heat of the moment when you're under pressure, can really be taken to heart. Over time these little incidents multiply in the child's mind and the more they fear failure, the less they want to try.

Five ways to boost confidence

Next time your child says something like "I can't, I'm no good at it" rather than dismissing their concerns off-hand, try to talk to them about it. Addressing their fears and helping them to improve whatever it is that they're struggling with can be a huge confidence boost. Likewise, it's important to explain that there's nothing wrong with having to work hard in order to become good at something. In fact, it's a really important life lesson.

Fear of failure can be crippling for a child. If there's something in particular that they're struggling with, tell them that it's ok, and encourage them to try again. Also, be sure to recognise their achievements as they improve.

There are scores of excellent tips out there to help boost your child's confidence including:

  • Reassure your child that it's OK to make mistakes - it doesn't mean they've failed
  • Criticise behaviour, not your child e.g. "that was silly" rather than "you're silly". When disciplining your child make sure that they understand that it's their behaviour that you don't like, rather than them
  • Accept their fears or insecurities as genuine and try to help them find a way to cope
  • Encourage independence and trying out new things, regardless of success or failure
  • Remind your child of the things that they are good at and also how much work it was to get there. For example "Remember how when you were first learning to read it was really hard? But you worked at it and now you're a great reader?"

Similarly, Dr Pat Spungin, a university lecturer in Child Psychology, recommends starting with the skills your child has. So when you see your child being positive, acting with confidence, and doing well, acknowledge it. Try to build up your child's sense of self-worth.

Finally, tough as it sounds, you will need to encourage your child to try to develop a thicker skin. Unfortunately, you won't always be on hand to protect your child from nasty comments they may encounter from others, we all know that children can be cruel.

Fortunately, the more your child's confidence grows, the less likely they will be to take such things to heart. Try to keep the lines of communication open so that if such incidences do occur your child will come and talk to you about it, and you can discuss ways in which they might handle such things in the future.

Play & pretend

At Perform, we play a game called X Factor - it's great for building confidence. Why not play at home?


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