• Parents need to nurture a positive self-image in children for them to be confident
Self-confidence simply means being able to trust and love yourself and put your best foot forward. Children who are confident are not afraid to take risks, have a positive view of themselves and believe they can overcome many challenges. All of this makes them stronger.
Research has shown that most children develop a sense of self-esteem at as early as five years of age. Because self-esteem tends to remain relatively stable across one’s lifespan, its early establishment could potentially provide a lifelong emotional buffer in the face of everyday failures and challenges.
Most children will have dips in self-esteem as they go through various stages or challenges in life. And there are different pressures that may affect them, including social media, bullying, exams, family problems and abuse.
Below are some ways to ensure they develop self-confidence.
Help children focus on their positive qualities, not just their flaws. The difference between confident and insecure people is that one focuses on the positive, the other on the negative.
No human being is perfect, and everyone has flaws. Ask them to identify what they consider attractive in themselves, or ask a friend to help. Then focus on the positive traits, not their flaws.
Remind them often not to be too hard on themselves and to allow room for mistakes. Self-confident people are often not critical and judgmental of themselves. When they make mistakes, they will take them as learning experiences, or make a comment like “everyone makes mistakes”. They do not give up trying and are more compassionate towards themselves.
Teach children not to compare themselves with others and to instead focus on the milestones and the improvements they have made. True self-confident people compete with themselves, not others. If your child compares themselves to others, they will feel incomplete because someone else will always seem better than them.
Confident kids are not afraid to take risks. They raise their hand even if unsure of the answer to a question in class; they join a sports team even if they don’t know how to play the game very well. They are not afraid of trying. Encourage your child to take risks and to try out new things. Even if they are not very good at them, they will improve with time but will feel better for trying.
Help the child discover themselves and their talents by joining a club, group or activity. Finding something they are good at and realising that they can do new things can provide a huge boost to their feelings of self-worth. Expressing themselves creatively through art or music, or doing voluntary work or a community project, will help them develop a more positive opinion of themselves.
Spend quality time with your child doing things they like and having fun. This could be a game they enjoy, or even chores. This shows the child that they are valued by you. As a parent, it is important to attend school meetings, sports days, games, drama or music performances. Making time for your child is an indirect way to show them they are a priority in your life, and this gives them a lot of confidence.
Encourage your child to hang out or make friends with children who boost their morale, who appreciate them and comment on their positive qualities, not the negative, as this will help your child feel more confident. People who insult or bully children, whether they are adults or kids, destroy their self- confidence and should be avoided where possible.
Giving kids a high self-esteem from early in life is one of the most important gifts that parents and teachers can provide to a child. Children who feel loved by those around them will likely internalise this love, and this becomes the foundation that allows them to excel in academics, relationships and later in the marketplace.
Nicole Shitolwa is a teacher at Crawford International School