Studies suggest that over a third of children lack confidence—just 60% of girls and 67% of boy claim that they feel confident. A lack of confidence early on in life can not only impact a child’s wellbeing but their happiness, development and future plans too.
Consequently, it is vital to not only recognise low confidence in children but also to try and increase your child’s confidence where necessary.
What Is Confidence?
Often confidence and self-esteem are used interchangeably. They are both different, but often do cross over. Low confidence relates to a lack of belief in your abilities. A child may believe they are ‘rubbish at maths’ or ‘stupid at schoolwork’.
On the other hand, self-esteem refers to self-love. Low self-esteem in a child will be where they think they are not good enough or dislike themselves on a whole-self level.
Put simply; confidence refers to abilities; self-esteem relates to self-love.
For example, a child may have low confidence in a subject, but that doesn’t prevent them from recognising their positive attributes in other areas of life.
Conversely, low confidence in a subject may lead a child to develop low self-esteem where they then think they are rubbish at everything.
How To Spot Low Confidence
Avoiding Social Interactions
A child with low confidence may shy away from social situations and will not feel able to start a conversation or interact with others. Low confidence can reduce their understanding of positive socialisation and may struggle to build healthy friendships. Furthermore, a child may miss out on social opportunities and developing vital social skills if low confidence gets in the way.
Staying In A Comfort Zone
Children with low confidence will typically avoid doing any challenging activities and prefer to remain safely in their comfort zone. This can limit their ability to grow, both mentally and physically and limit their life chances. You can typically spot this behaviour in children who frequently compare themselves to others.
Not Trying New Things
A child may limit their potential and hinder their growth if they avoid trying new things because they doubt their abilities. What’s more, not trying new things can actually lower a child’s confidence because they won’t realise how much they can achieve and how brilliant they are. Consequently, they may always underestimate their abilities.
In some cases, a child will blame others for their inability to try something new as an avoidance strategy.
Another sign of low confidence is that they fear failure, so won’t even push themselves to try anything or do better. This fear of failure will mean the child will struggle to bounce back from the usual setbacks that everyone in life faces. As a result, they will struggle to develop resilience and learning the critical life skill of bouncing back after difficult situations.
Developing Low Self-Esteem
When a child begins to worry about their lack of abilities, this can then feed into their self-esteem, where they talk negatively about themselves and feel that they are not enough. Low self-esteem can be incredibly harmful to children and can impact their health and wellbeing and may lead to issues such as self-harm and depression.
If your child starts to display low self-confidence, then the good news is that there are ways that you can help build their confidence. By deploying some careful strategies, your child can be full of confidence which can manifest as;
- Feeling happy in speaking up and communicating
- Putting their hand up in class and sharing their knowledge
- Expressing how they feel in a healthy manner
- Being able to stand up for themselves and others
- Feeling less anxious and increased general happiness
- Understanding and realising their true potential
- Having goals and achieving their ambitions
- Being happy in themselves and loving who they are.
Confidence, like other skills, needs to be practised. Low confidence is not something you’re born with. Instead, it develops in our thought processes. For your child, confidence doesn’t come from how much praise you give your child or even luck, but what’s going on in your child’s mind.
This means that it is possible to alter the thought processes that can help your child to build their confidence. Here are six strategies that you can begin implementing today.
Increase Your Child’s Confidence In Six Ways
1. Focus On What You Say
The language you use to your child and what your child may overhear you saying can all feed into their thought processes, so it is important to use language with care. For example, if you describe your child as shy and confirm that they can’t do something, then this can reinforce a belief the child has.
Or, you may say off-hand to a fellow parent ‘he isn’t very sporty’. If your child hears this, they may believe that they aren’t good at sports, they will almost certainly believe that you don’t think they are capable, and won’t even try to participate.
Alternatively, you may try to protect your child out of fear or anxiety. It may be to protect them from embarrassment; however, all of these can lead a child to feel that they shouldn’t try something new or attempt challenges.
It is important to consider how you react to your child. For example, do you dismiss them when they ask to try something new? Instead, it can be healthier to first state that you are proud of them for wanting to do something different. Then you can both discuss the process and the outcome, the advantages and the disadvantages and decide the best option from there.
It can also help to encourage and praise your child for not worrying about what others think and for being brave; this can help to instil confident thought processes.
2. Use Visualisations
Visualisation is a powerful way to achieve a positive behavioural change and help a child’s confidence to grow. It works by imagining a situation and seeing it play out positively. For example, if a child is nervous about doing something, such as standing at the front of the class and talking, then help your child to visualise a positive outcome.
To start with, reassure your child that they’ve been asked to speak because the teacher is genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say and would like them to share it, that’s positive already!
Ask your child to imagine getting up and walking to the front of the class. Outline that everybody is a little nervous about public speaking and those nerves are to do with wanting to do well. They are good nerves and they show that they care about what they are about to do and that they want to do well. That’s a good thing!
Tell them to see themself standing up doing their talk and seeing all the students and the teacher looking really interested in what they’re saying. Encourage your child to imagine that they were really happy with what they said and ask them to imagine the sound of the applause at the end of their talk. Can your child imagine how amazing that will feel?
Inform them it’s very rare that anyone gives a talk with making a bit of an error sometimes, that’s just normal. Remind them it’s their time to shine and everyone that’s listening to them actually wants them to do well.
This can help confidence to grow and a child to feel better prepared for activities that may be new or scary to them.
3. Transform The Inner Voice
What often comes with low confidence is the critical inner voice that tells us that we can’t do something, so we shouldn’t even try. This inner voice is something that keeps us in our comfort zones and makes us avoid trying anything new or different.
For a child, it can be hard to understand what this inner voice is and how it can impact their self-confidence. However, there are ways you can help to quieten this critical inner voice to restore your child’s confidence.
Start by asking your child to write down the words that are in their head. Then, ask them where they think these thoughts and feelings come from. In some cases, there may be no reason, it may just be a feeling, but it could stem from friends, something a sibling said or something that has happened before.
Then, help your child to reframe these negative thoughts into positive affirmations. For example, feeling scared can then turn into ‘I am strong and ready to try something new’.
4. Get Comfortable With Failure
Failure can sometimes be the catalyst where low confidence can stem from. However, it is important to instil into your child that failure is a normal part of success. It can help to look at famous people and how they’ve taken their failures and turned them into a success.
When your child gets comfortable with learning lessons from their mistakes or perceived failures, they can grow in confidence and resilience, which is an important life skill.
5. Look Confident, Feel Confident
It is incredible what a few simple tweaks can do to boost confidence. A few deep breaths and rolling back the shoulders can make you look confident, which makes you feel confident.
You can do this really easy test with your child to check.
First, ask them to slump in their seat. Ask your child to rate how confident they feel out of a scale of one to 10.
Then, ask them to put their shoulders back and stand tall. Then ask them to rate how confident they feel again.
We guarantee the second score will be higher!
A confident posture can make all the difference in how you feel. When you look confident, this sends signals to the brain, which makes you feel confident, so that you then act confidently! Really interestingly, the more confident you look the more your audience will think you’re confident too! This can make your child feel much better about themselves.
They can enhance this confidence posture by deep breathing and by smiling too!
6. Build A Wonder Wall!
A wonder wall is a collection of achievements, memories and keepsakes of times you have felt proud, confident and talented. A wonder wall doesn’t have to be a physical wall; it could be a pinboard or a scrapbook. It could be a journal or a poster on the back of the bedroom door. This should be a space of creativity where a child can write, draw, and stick mementoes of all their best achievements that make them feel good. If they struggle to think of situations, help them by getting them to add in events or situations where they made YOU proud.
When it is so easy to focus on the negatives, a wonder wall becomes a space for positive vibes only!
If your child is struggling with low self-confidence, or you need help in implementing some of these confidence-boosting strategies, then please get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.