How to build classroom confidence in your child
In an increasingly competitive world confidence and self-esteem have never been so important, and some would argue, hard to achieve. Self-confidence is the cornerstone to a successful life, opening up opportunities, affecting how others perceive us, and a critical element if one is to thrive at school, at work, and in personal relationships. A lack of confidence can lead to poor academic performance and social isolation. However, there are ways you can boost your child’s self-esteem and confidence.
Building confidence in your child will lay the groundwork for future success and solid self-esteem. So, as a parent, how can you foster confidence in your child at this crucial time in their development? Below we offer some practical tips and suggestions that you can implement immediately.
What is self esteem? Why does it matter?
Children who feel good about themselves have the confidence to try new things. They are more likely to give their best and feel proud of what they can do. Self-esteem helps children cope with mistakes and failures by giving them the confidence to try again. As a result, self-esteem helps children do better at school, at home, and with friends.
Children with low self-esteem feel unsure of themselves. If they think others won’t accept them, they may not join in, and may have a hard time standing up for themselves. They may give up easily, or not try at all as they find it hard to cope when they make a mistake, lose, or fail. As a result, they may not do as well as they could.
Children with high self-esteem:
- feel liked and accepted
- feel confident
- feel proud of what they can do
- feel positively about themselves
- believe in themselves
Children with low self-esteem:
- are self-critical and hard on themselves
- feel they’re not as good as other children
- think of the times they fail rather than when they succeed
- lack confidence
- doubt they can do things well
Opportunities to grow self esteem
Any time children try new things, practice new skills independently, or experience new learning that can be a chance for their self-esteem to grow. This can happen when children:
- make progress toward a goal
- learn a new concept or skill at school
- make friends and get along
- learn skills — music, sports, art, cooking, tech skills
- practice favourite activities
- help, give, or be kind
- get praise for good behaviours
- try hard at something
- do things they’re good at and enjoy
- are included by others
- feel understood and accepted
- get a prize or a good grade they know they’ve earned
When children have self-esteem, they feel confident, capable, and accepted for who they are. This is the state of being that we want to foster, as parents, teachers and adults involved in a child’s development.
General tips for boosting confidence in your child
Your child knows when your praise is excessive. Over time, this has been shown to hurt a child’s self-confidence rather than boost it. Instead praise your child for effort, progress and attitude, and be as specific as possible.
For example: “You’re working hard on that project,” “You’re getting better and better at these spelling tests,” or, “I’m proud of you for practising your piano scales” With this kind of praise, children put effort into things, work toward goals, and persevere.
Be a good role model
When you put effort into everyday tasks (like making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you’re setting a good example. Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning their room, or helping their siblings.
Modelling the right attitude counts too. When you do tasks cheerfully (or at least without grumbling or complaining), you teach your child to do the same. When you avoid rushing through chores and take pride in a job well done, you teach your child to do that too. Even if a task or project brings up negative emotions for you, express your feelings briefly and carry on with the tasks, don’t let them be the driving force.
Ban harsh criticism
The messages children hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Harsh words (“You’re so lazy!”) are harmful to self-esteem, and not motivating. Correct children with patience and focus on what you want them to do next time using positive language. For example rather than saying “That maths homework looks really hard, don’t worry, I know you find maths hard” (which reinforces that a) they are not good at maths and b) it is difficult and they shouldn’t expect to succeed) instead, you could say “Let’s look at this together – I bet we can work it out” or “Well done for persevering, I can see it’s a difficult task but you stuck with it. Great effort”. When needed, show them how and let them practice, allowing for mistakes as they learn.
Focus on strengths and encourage them to pursue personal interests
Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys, and ensure your child has chances to develop these strengths. Encourage them to take on tasks they show interest in, then make sure they follow through to completion. It doesn’t matter what the task is —it could be anything from swimming laps to beating levels in a computer game. The point is for them to stick with what they start, so they feel a sense of accomplishment at the end.
Exploring their own interests can help children develop a sense of identity, which is essential to building confidence. Of course, seeing their talents grow will also give a huge boost to their self-esteem.
Let children help and give
Self-esteem grows when children see the effect of what they do and how it matters to others. Encourage your child to help out at home, do a community or volunteering project, or help a sibling. Helping and kind acts build self-esteem and other positive feelings.
Tips for boosting classroom confidence in your child
Get involved in your child’s learning
Are you just reading letters that occasionally come home from school, or are you actively getting involved in your child’s learning? Do you occasionally check in to see how they are getting on with their homework? Getting involved in your child’s learning shows you’re taking your child’s education seriously. This, in turn, will cause them to take it seriously and give them a boost of confidence.
Use open evenings and parents evenings as opportunities to build relationships with your child’s teachers. If your child is struggling with maths, for example, get to know his/her maths teacher. Make them aware that you care and they can contact you anytime with updates on your child’s progress.
Help them foster a love of learning
So how can you get your child to love science for example? Get them to see that science is all around us and help them see it in a different light. Watch science shows on TV with them, highlighting that science is part of many things from crime scene investigation programmes to wildlife documentaries.
There are also opportunities for museums and exhibitions during school breaks. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, for example, has a Planetarium exhibition. The exhibition gives an almost real-life tour experience of the universe. As a result, your child starts to see science as fun and interesting and their confidence in the subject begins to grow.
Don’t forget to model learning behaviours – learning is for life, a privilege that expands our minds and brings us joy. Show your child that you enjoy learning and continue to do so every day, whether it be taking up an evening class, reading in your spare time or attending talks and exhibitions.
Teach them how to set achievable goals
Few things are more beneficial to self-esteem than success. Goal setting enables a child to visualise things that they ordinarily wouldn’t. And the action of taking daily steps to work towards their goals increases motivation and self-belief.
Goal setting helps a child imagine and visualise their possibilities and teaches them to be accountable. It stretches and challenges them; and as they start to achieve their goals, they begin to trust in their abilities. This in turn boosts their confidence.
Children can set goals in any area of their life; from academics to health to relationships. However, make sure the goals are achievable, if a child is constantly striving for unreachable goals recurrent failure will do more harm than good.
Instil a positive mindset
Having a positive mindset means believing that if you put your mind to something you can achieve it. Many children have a fixed mindset. If they are doing poorly in science, for example, they believe that they are not good at science. That limiting belief ultimately leads them to take actions that fulfil that prophecy. Having a positive, growth mindset improves self-esteem, reduces anxiety and depression, and leads to better grades.
One way you can help your child develop a positive mindset is to teach them that failure is actually a good thing and part of learning and growth. Praise your child for their effort rather than their natural intelligence. Children who are praised for their effort are always willing to keep trying. On the other hand, those who are praised for their intelligence avoid difficult tasks because they know they are less likely to be praised if they fail the task.
Give them 1:1 support
Amongst, hard work, consistency and self-confidence many top achievers swear by 1 to 1 coaching or mentoring. They say that having a coach catapulted their success. One way you can help your child improve their confidence at school is by having them work with a tutor. Having someone explain a concept to a child in a manner that is digestible and easy to understand helps boost their confidence.
Here at JK Educate, we are constantly receiving messages from parents telling us how their child’s confidence has increased at school once they start to receive regular tutoring. An effective tutor not only imparts subject knowledge, they also help the student with their planning and study schedule. They build a strong, professional relationship so that the student is comfortable asking them general non-academic questions. Essentially, they act as a mentor to help bolster the child’s confidence.
Confidence equals success
One of the greatest gifts we can give children is to instil in them a strong sense of confidence. In doing this, we enable them to be higher achievers. Confidence breeds success. If students believe they can succeed, they will succeed.
If you think your child has low confidence in the classroom, get closer to their studies and be aware of what they enjoy and succeed at compared to what they struggle with. Try using the tips laid out above, and if you are looking for additional tutoring, want to assess your child’s academic level, or need advice about your child’s education, JK Educate is here to help.