by Kirsty Woodgate
A child who possesses high self esteem will acquire a healthy attitude towards life. A rooted foundation of confidence will enable them to face life’s challenges and will act as a passport to a positive outlook, to well-balanced social skills and future success.
As this is such an important area, Primary Times will cover this subject at regular intervals with features designed to provide parents with tips, insight and advice on how to help build a child’s self-esteem. We will look at various related issues such as descriptive praise; the art of positive listening; helping a child to manage stress and how to show value. This feature will look at practical ways to help improve a child’s confidence.
How to improve a child’s confidence
Nurturing confidence is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to a child. In part, its foundations are rooted in a child’s self-worth which is deeply intertwined with how responsive the main caregivers are. Parents who devote quality time to their children will create a rich environment where positive feelings are able to flourish that children then get used to. When such children face a setback or challenge it feels alien to them, so they aim to remedy any fear or ill feeling quickly and determinedly to return to their ‘usual’ state of well-being. This ability to overcome adversity breeds a deep level of inner-confidence. So, a child who is enveloped in a positive home environment, yet who is encouraged to take on challenges is more likely to gain in confidence.
Building confidence through challenges
At a young age, children are continually exposed to an ever-changing learning environment and are often very willing to grasp new skills and acquire interests. This is more noticeable when they reach the formative years from 8 to 12. This is a good age for parents to gently steer their children towards an activity, interest or skill that will allow a personal strength to blossom. The rewards are plentiful; if a child believes they are good at one thing, their self-confidence will grow; beneficially filtering into other areas of their life.
What activity should my child pursue?
To navigate your way through the enormous field of hobbies and interests, allow your child to sample a different variety of activities to find what suits them most. Fortunately, many activity providers offer free taster sessions without demanding any further commitment. Naturally, a child may be drawn to a particular activity because they have a natural aptitude for it or they may simply enjoy it. Whilst, some extra-curricular activities can have a notable effect on a child’s confidence so are certainly worth exploring further. In particular, the performing arts, martial arts and outdoor pursuits have been strongly identified as great confidence boosters for their self-challenging qualities and their command of a positive mindset. Of course, there are many others, but we will focus on these three here.
The Performing Arts
Many famous actors, actresses, singers and dancers have turned to the performing arts to overcome shyness and build confidence, as the nature of this art form allows them to freely express themselves in a way they wouldn’t normally feel confident enough to do. Through music, dance or drama children can also follow a journey that leads them to develop imagination, gain expressive qualities and ultimately grow in confidence. Along the way, they will also gain self discipline, invaluable social skills and will learn the best way to overcome fear is to face it!
In drama, children are able to lose any awkward inhibitions under the pretence of playing different characters. They are actively encouraged to act and behave like someone else, enabling them to see life from another character’s viewpoint which in turn nurtures empathy. In drama, oratory and communication skills are developed which of course are enormously useful in all walks of life and consequently build confidence.
Similarly, through dance, children learn to express themselves in a way that involves physical movement and self-control. This freedom of movement can overwhelm any inner awkwardness, allowing a child to gain in confidence. By undertaking dance exams or by appearing in performances, children find ways to banish nerves and remain focused. And as there is such a vast choice of dance styles available, your child is sure to find one that will suit their personality.
With music, children have a tool to control mood and lift spirits. They can gain in confidence by learning to play a musical instrument that they can channel their feelings into. Playing and creating music requires perseverance and self-discipline.
Collectively and individually, all forms of performing art offer enormous steps to greater confidence, and who knows it may just awaken a performing star of the future!