Ask the Expert
How can I help my eight-year-old gain more confidence?
We want our children to deal with adversity, learn from failure and deal with difficult challenges. Building self-efficacy is the most effective way for a child to succeed and gain confidence.
“Good job” and “You did great” are common self-esteem enhancers, but they only provide comfort and support in the moment. A child must believe that their success was the result of something they did—this builds self-efficacy.
Reflect on your child’s strengths and be specific. “You were so friendly with the new girl because you smiled at her and asked her to play with you” will have a stronger impact than “Good job being friendly”. Our children learn what skills they have when we are clear about what their skills are.
Furthermore, when your child is disappointed because they have failed, let them feel sadness and anger. Tell them, “I can see you are disappointed because you did not do well.” Then, when your child is in a better mood, ask them, what they can try next time to improve.
To build confidence, children need opportunities to make decisions, use and practice skills, attempt different ways of doing things and even fail.
Zoë Gare, Lower Elementary Counselor, American School Doha
M.Ed Counseling, M.Ed Special Education, M.Ed International Counseling
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