8 Keys To Nurturing A Child’s Self-Confidence

How do we use compliments? Complimenting a child’s intelligence or talent sends a fixed-minded message. This weakens their confidence and motivation.

1. Value the process rather than the result

Valuing the fact of having a talent or a good grade are mark of a fixed mindset. Expanding knowledge and skills is a hallmark of the growth mindset.

drawing with smile indoor shot

It is possible to encourage differently and focus on the  processes  that the child used:

  • Strategies
  • Efforts
  • Choice

Rather than telling a child or teenager that they are “brilliant” because they got a good grade, we could say “You looked for strategies, you persevered, tried all kinds of solutions, and ended up overcoming the problem. difficulty “.

This way of valuing the process rather than the result instills in children a growth mindset. So they will understand that even geniuses work hard. Whatever a person’s abilities, effort is what transforms them into personal accomplishment.

Instead of allowing themselves to be defined by experience (positive or negative), children who adopt a growth mindset use their experiences, regardless of the outcomes, to learn something and become even better for themselves -themselves (and not against others or for others).

The most important thing about facing and succeeding in challenges is to approach them with a growth mindset. It is about thinking in terms not only of effort and work but also of strategies.

2. Accept that learning takes time

Speed ​​and perfection are not the priorities. Beware of compliments like “You did it so quickly!” Well done! or “You made no mistakes” which sends the message that speed and perfection matter more than things learned.

group kids friends arm-around sitting ogether

It is practice, training, and the amount of effort that develops a skill. But practice takes time. Furthermore, it is through practice that children will be confronted with challenges, problems to solve, and failures.

It is from these tests that they will be able to develop new, more effective strategies.

Finally, it can be useful to have skills benchmarks by age group in mind but above all to keep in mind that each child has their own pace.

This will help us to keep faith in the child’s skills and let him behave like children his age, without realistic expectations or anxiety linked to a possible “delay”.

3. Cultivate curiosity

It is common to say that children are naturally curious. However, this natural and spontaneous curiosity disappears as they grow up.

Ken Robinson explains that the people most gifted at divergent thinking are… children under 5! The most creative people in the world are kindergartners!

Cultivating the spirit of curiosity and the art of asking questions keeps the embers of learning that each child carries within them burning.

Allowing children to explore new experiences helps them understand that even if they seem scary or different, they can “range with” them and overcome them.

This does not mean forcing children to do things they don’t want to do or denying their emotions (“But no, you’re not afraid of water”, “but no, it’s is not high, go ahead, jump!”).

We can put the imagined ideas into action: what if we replaced the butter with coconut oil or the eggs with bananas in the recipe? What would that give? Let’s try and see!

Opportunities can be provided for children to physically observe the results of their hypotheses. Exploration and action often provide new questions and fuel new ideas to test in new experiments.

Let’s expose children to new ideas and they will create new questions!

4. Support the development of independence by providing useful assistance

Joonify which is early child talent assessment expert suggests that Overprotecting a child can quickly make him lose his self-confidence; doing so for him can quickly discourage him and send him the message that he is not competent. The message of love is by definition that of confidence in the child’s abilities.

To develop healthily, and to grow and acquire maturity, the child needs to face a certain number of failures, fight at times against adversity, and sometimes experience painful emotions.

Think about the price that a child will have to pay who has experienced the “luxury” of having everything he wants. – Tal Ben Shahar

Maria Montessori sums up this attitude in one expression:  Help me do everything on my own. This can start from the first months of the child’s life with the concept of free motor skills.

The whole challenge is to learn how to dose our aid to effectively help children. Maria Montessori also said about the confidence to be transmitted to children: “Never help a child to perform a gesture that he is capable of performing alone”.

Furthermore, it is possible to emphasize small steps, in the child’s progress to show him that he is capable of achieving objectives, of succeeding in what he undertakes. Increasingly important responsibilities may be given to him depending on his age.

5. Adopt a constructive view of errors

Mistakes are the foundation of learning. We can raise children to not be afraid of failure and to view mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Don’t be judgmental. Teach. It’s a learning process. –Carol Dweck

Nothing is more discouraging for a human being, especially a child than to see their efforts criticized. However, a discouraged child will no longer dare to embark on new projects or new learning.

It is possible to adopt a positive view of errors:

  • Instead of asking for copies or no-fault actions, we can ask for full commitment and real effort.
  • Instead of evaluating children, we can give them respect and the strategies they need to develop and improve.
  • Instead of punishing bad grades, we can see with the child what they can learn from their grades (their strengths, weaknesses, what resources are needed, where to find these resources, what questions to ask to progress, whose…)

6. Recognize signs of courage

Courage can be expressed in several ways:

when a child overcomes a difficulty (“It was difficult and you did this, that and, in the end, you succeeded!”, “how proud are you of yourself for having succeeded in…”,

“That makes you happy?” took tons of effort, I saw you struggle and you didn’t give up”…).

When a child tries something new (“it can be scary to try something new and you have overcome your fears, that’s called courage”, “At first you were afraid and that’s normal and then, little by little, you dared, you practiced it, and now, you know how to do it).

7. Let children demonstrate individual responsibility

Some things are the responsibility of the parent (providing shelter, food, ensuring safety, etc.), and others are that of the child (for example, thinking about their sports equipment for swimming pool class, tidying up his business).

If we think of doing tasks for the little child that seem thankless or unpleasant to us out of love, it is a safe bet that, when we consider that he is old enough to do so, he will consider this task as a constraint or a punishment.

Let us realize that it is in early childhood that adolescence, then adulthood, is formed.  – Emanuelle Opezzo

Helping a child usefully is a guarantee of the development of personal responsibility. If we do not let the child try on his own, if we do it for him, it is self-confidence, self-esteem, but also willpower, perseverance, and initiative that will be affected.

We can teach children to think about “solutions” rather than dumping them on us (or any other person) to find ready-made solutions for them (or even imposing them on them through coercion): “What can you do about it?” to this problem? what solution are you thinking of?

How can you be sure that you are thinking about…? Failing that, we can at least give them the choice between several solutions, or start from our proposals so that they can invent their own.

In Western children, the mechanism for looking after oneself only works partially since a large part of this task is taken over by adults. Having a horror of redundancy, the continuation therefore eliminates all the responsibilities that adults take over.

This results in a reduction in efficiency since no one else can be more constant and alert than oneself. –  Jean Liedloff (The concept of the continuum)

8. Welcome and validate children’s emotions

Cultivating a child’s self-confidence does not mean putting them under a hood or throwing them into the deep end without them knowing how to swim.

It is rather a matter of gradually supporting him, equipping him, encouraging him, giving him full attention, noticing his progress, refraining from intervening when it is not necessary, and offering help without it. impose.

However, all of this is ineffective without caring and emotional support. Building a child’s self-confidence requires welcoming and validating their emotions, whatever their nature. This may be :

  • Fear of novelty
  • Sadness in the face of failure
  • Anger in the face of frustration
  • Stress in the face of an ordeal

This is true for emotions but it is also the case for sensations such as cold, hunger, and sleep. The more a child can rely on his internal “thermometer” about his sensations and emotions, the more self-confidence he will have.


The good news is that its key points are valid for all ages, including teenagers and adults! Furthermore, it is useful to note that, from early childhood, self-confidence is built in the emotional closeness and physical contact of the child with his parents.

Proximal mothering ( physiological carrying, shared sleep, response to babies’ cries, breastfeeding) establishes the young child’s sense of self-awareness.

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