Being confident also allows kids to build better relationships with themselves and everyone around them. They’re not afraid to share their opinions and ideas. They’re less likely to be insecure and threatened by other people’s strengths. All of this helps them face life challenges more easily.

So what are some ways you can build confidence in your kids?

1. Model Confidence

Show your child what it looks like to believe in yourself.

If you can practice positive self-talk (out loud, where your kids can hear it) and tangible preparation (like practicing basketball shots if you’re playing in a parents’ league or studying vocabulary words if you’re taking a language class), you’ll be demonstrating two of the most important components of confidence.

And if you don’t succeed at whatever you’re attempting to do? Good!

Failing is an essential part of being human. It happens to you, and it will happen to your child too.

If they see you fall short of your goal, don’t be afraid to show them how you feel. Expressing feelings like sadness gives you the chance to model how to move through them.

Then you can make adjustments, try again, and  voilà!—you’ve given your child a perfect example of acting with confidence.

2. Praise Your Child’s Mistakes and Failures

Even if your child sees you making mistakes, it may be hard for them when they do the same. This is true for everyone, but especially for kids who have low self-esteem and kids who are shy or sensitive.

Let your child know how proud you are when they try something new. If you focus on their effort, you’re helping them internalize the importance of those two character traits.

And it’s okay to praise your child when they do succeed too! In fact, consistently focusing positivity on their perseverance and then praising them when they finally succeed will reinforce the important link between trying and accomplishing their goal, especially when you emphasize how proud you are of the work they put in (vs. the final result alone).

3. Encourage Your Child to Find Their Passion

It’s not too early to help your child find what they love to do or what they love to learn about, such as dinosaurs, space, or animals. Try to notice when your child is especially fascinated by something and see if you can make it easier for them to explore.

Becoming an expert in something begins an identity-building process that’s central to promoting a positive self-image. Putting in hard work and getting better and better also provides a definite self-esteem boost.

Ask your child questions about their passion. Let them know they’re teaching you something new. Feeling knowledgeable is empowering.

4. Find Ways for Your Child to Feel Responsible

Give your child an age-appropriate job in your home.

Maybe they can set the table every night. Or hold the dustpan when you sweep. Or help fold or sort the laundry.

To make the chore more doable, if you give them a task that has a few parts, break it down and demonstrate each one. Or do it together a few times before you turn it over entirely to your child.

Being an integral part of chores allows your child to feel a sense of independent agency (I can do this myself) and connection to the family.

It feels good to help! Even if your child resists it at first, don’t give up. They’ll eventually feel valued for their contribution.

5. Give them your attention

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make time to give your child your full attention. Much like playtime, it boosts your child’s feelings of self-worth by sending the message that you think they’re important and valuable.

Here are a few simple tips for building confidence while giving your kids your attention:

  • Make eye contact so it’s clear that you’re really listening to what they’re saying.
  • If your child needs to talk, stop and listen to what they have to say. They need to know that their thoughts, feelings, and opinions matter.
  • Help them get comfortable with their emotions by accepting them without judgment. By doing so, you validate those feelings and show that you value what they have to say.
  • Share your own feelings to help them gain confidence in expressing their own.

6. Set Your Child Up for Success Sometimes

Making mistakes with no sense of forward progress can be hard for your child, especially if they’re highly sensitive.

You may notice them feeling frustrated when they fail and as a result, beginning to lose some of their self-confidence. If this is the case, give them opportunities to do something you know they can get right. Adding “wins” to their experience bucket gives them a way to recharge and then reset.

Once you see their confidence on the rise, you can go back to nudging them to take on more challenges!

Becoming a confident kid doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of practice and progress. If you don’t see your child’s positive self-esteem right away, remember they are learning. It just takes time.