5 Tips for Helping Children Build Self-Confidence

I have learned over the twenty-plus years that I’ve been an educator that it doesn’t matter how you teach something or how much help a child receives if that child doesn’t believe he or she can do the work a struggle almost always ensues; whether it’s academic, mental, or emotional. Self-confidence is an essential ingredient in a child’s ability to learn. And breaking through the barrier is one of the most important things we must do if the child is to succeed. But how do we do that?

The reasons for low self-confidence in children can be many, most of which are far beyond a counselor's ability to tackle. But we can help children identify ways they can boost their own belief in themselves regardless of their circumstances. Every child deserves to see themselves through a positive lens.

Here are five tips for helping your students boost their self-confidence and help them believe they can achieve what they think they can’t.

Often, children experience frustration and insecurity because they can’t name what they’re feeling. Or they are not aware that what they are feeling is normal. Helping them recognize feelings like happiness, sadness, anger, and fear can give them words to express emotions and identify what makes them feel these things.

Children in elementary school sometimes don’t have guidance or experience in reacting to others’ actions. Helping them recognize they have choices when it comes to reacting is important to giving them tools to help them not internalize unconstructive, negative feedback.

This is one of the most important ways any role model can help a child build self-confidence. Knowing what they are good at can help them see that not everything others say in anger to them represents truth. You might be interested in It’s Good to Be Me book video with activities to help bolster self-confidence.

Among other things, knowing who loves us creates safe spaces to talk about hurtful feelings. It also counteracts the headspace lists of people who don’t like them can take up which unfortunately become their primary way of thinking about themselves.

Fear is just a feeling, but it can be overwhelming for any age. Fear can make things seem more real than they may be. Understanding that it’s okay to be afraid and that it’s just a feeling, like happiness or sadness, can take away from of the strength of fear and anxiety.

These tips are just a beginning for helping a child build self-confidence. If you’re looking for a resource that can be utilized in counseling sessions or sent home to parents, Somebodyness might be your answer. Somebodyness is an activity book for children 6 to 10 years old that outlines fun and interesting ways to practice these tips with children. It includes activities to engage children through art therapy, self-reflection, and self-awareness. 

It’s an interactive way to help children visualize their strengths and weakness, how things others say to them—positive or negative—make them feel, identify the things that make them unique, and how to handle negative feedback that may cause them to feel sadness, anger, or fear.

Here are some ways you might use this activity book with a student:

(*) Send a book home with parents when they request help (this is one of the most effective ways to use it with students)

(*) After a counseling session hand one to your student and have them work in it independently

(*) Use it as part of your individual counseling sessions (do a couple pages each session)

(*) Print them and select certain pages to work with students individually or in small groups

(*) Have them be a part of a whole class lesson (ie teach lesson about self-confidence then give each student their own book)

(*) After a student session have a folder where students complete five pages and then during next week’s session you discuss those five and she/he gets another five until the entire book is completed 

How do help your students improve their confidence?