Giving your child self-confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give him, because it will help him throughout his life. Whether as a teenager, as a young adult entering professional life or later, this ability to have good self-esteem is essential to face the many challenges of life.

In the parent-child relationship, the notion of self-confidence is a daily task. Here are some keys to achieving this in difficult times as well as on good days.

Self-confidence: definition

Difference Between Self Confidence and Self Esteem

Self-esteem and self-confidence are often associated and used as synonyms. However, there is a slight difference between these two notions since self-esteem is based on an awareness of one's own personal value.

It is this ability to recognize one's limits and strengths.

Self-confidence is more about believing in your ability to succeed. It is therefore a projection.

When a confident child has good self-esteem, he accepts himself as he is. He has a positive image of himself.

This disjunction is important, because a child can have very good self-esteem at the social level, but have self-confidence that needs to be improved when it comes to school, for example.

According to Isabelle Filliozat, a French psychotherapist, when the child combines self-esteem and self-confidence, he is able to be 100% himself:

  • Have an accurate view of who he or she is;
  • Identify what differentiates it from others;
  • Power of choice, even in difficult times;
  • Express their own needs, emotions, preferences and ideas;
  • Set realistic expectations and attainable goals;
  • Have confidence in the future;
  • Take risks, dare new experiences, give yourself the right to make mistakes;
  • Stay motivated and move forward;
  • Have positive social, friendly and romantic relationships;
  • Have confidence in himself and in others;
  • Enforce.

Self-confidence and school

From the age of 3 already, but especially from the end of kindergarten and the beginning of primary school, the child must adapt to a new reality: school.

From the age of 4, 5 and 6 years begins a demanding period in terms of learning, because the child receives a large amount of information.

He will thus learn to organize himself, to concentrate, to become more autonomous and to be responsible for himself and for others.

School is also synonymous with contact with other children of his age. This will lead him to compare himself, whether in new play activities, sports activities or in a school subject (writing, reading, arithmetic, plastic arts, etc.).

He or she may also seek to compare themselves physically with others.

For all this learning, the child's self-confidence is essential so that he understands that he is unique. He doesn't need to compare himself to others to be happy.

Factors that influence children's self-confidence

Several attitudes and other external factors can influence the child's relational trust or lack of trust.

Naturally confident children?

For example, some children are naturally comfortable with trial and error. They have such a temperament that they more easily accept taking risks and having to start over if necessary. They naturally develop a good dose of self-confidence.

A need to observe

Other children learn this self-confidence by observing around them. Thus, these children need to get to know the new people they meet better as well as the places they go to for the 1st or 2nd time before they feel good.

These children will take less initiative in difficult times because they will be afraid of failing, which can hinder the development of their confidence.

Parent behavior

Another determining factor in the development of self-confidence in children is the attitude of their parents.

As we know, children learn by mimicking and repeating what their parents do and say. These are the first mirrors and the first models that children encounter on a daily basis.

Sometimes this happens without realizing it.

Thus, when the child does something by himself, he develops his confidence and he becomes proud of himself. But it also happens that parents anticipate their needs and do things for the child. A very commendable intention of the parents, but which can have consequences contrary to what we want.

Under the pretext of (over)protecting him in order to avoid difficulties, this approach does not help the child to develop his own confidence in his abilities.

It is important for the child to realize that he has an imperfect parent. The mistake of the parents is not always the one that will be repeated.

Choosing a new activity

Some extracurricular activities can have a positive or negative impact on a child's self-confidence.

Indeed, if the activities proposed by the parents are adapted to his abilities (such as yoga for children) while representing a challenge that he can overcome, the child will better live his successes and develop his skills and competences which he will be proud.

But if the child lacks stimulation, if the activities are too demanding or too difficult, the child may become demotivated, feel incompetent and ultimately lack confidence.

How to act to boost self-confidence in your child?

Here are some attitudes and behaviors to adopt day after day to boost your child's self-confidence.

Recognize your child's successes

Instead of stigmatizing your child's failures, why not point out what's good and succeed? Why not celebrate all his positive actions?

Even if it seems natural, banal or normal, it is essential to let your child know. Indeed, the latter does not know what is going on in your head, he cannot know if what he has done is good or not.

Isabelle Filliozat affirms it: valuing the accumulation of successes will not make him proud. But it will help him fight against the lack of self-confidence, especially in difficult times for him.

Does your boy know how to dress himself? Say congratulations to him!

Does your daughter bring home a good grade from school? Say kudos to him.

Did he or she come home at the time you indicated? Once again, congratulate him!

She wants to take the train alone to join her grandparents? But of course ! Here is a little advice to know from what age you can take the train .


Make him talk about something he knows perfectly

Children discover new things every day and often they are also completely foreign things to parents.

This can concern his hobbies, his schooling, a sporting activity, etc.

The important thing is to get him to talk and to ask him to explain to you what he knows or how he does such a thing.

This will help him feel more sure of himself and above all “stronger” than his parents. For what ? Because he or she will be in the position of him teaching something to another.

This enhancement of his knowledge is excellent for his emotional and psychological development.

Celebrate your own successes

Without going overboard, it is important that parents also celebrate their victories, their personal or professional successes in front of their children.

Here's a great way to lead by example. It is also an opportunity for your child to realize that being happy to have achieved something does not necessarily mean having an inflated ego.

To celebrate a success, whatever it is, is to give courage. It's bringing a little boost of confidence and motivation to continue and move forward, to continue the efforts.

Suggest activities where the child feels comfortable

By offering new benevolent activities where his own child excels such as yoga for children, or games where he wins easily, this will put him in the path of success and show him that he is obviously capable and competent.

Why not take the opportunity to work on our ability, as adults, to admit that we can also lose (and repair our inner child)?

Get out of the comfort zone

At any age, it will be necessary to get out of our comfort zone to move forward, to dare, to succeed (and sometimes fail).

There is no point in preventing your child from trying something because you as a parent are afraid.

Learn to relativize the risks and stay attentive without overprotecting it.

If the child feels that you have good faith that he or she can succeed, chances are he or she will.

Appreciate failures

It is not something innate, but the error is part of the success.

According to Isabelle Filliozat, it is important to explain to your child that making a mistake or missing out is not something fatal or bad.

On the contrary, why not consider it as a second chance to do better, to learn from your mistakes and finally succeed?

What not to do

At the CHU Sainte-Justine, it has been shown that certain signs make it possible to identify that a child lacks self-confidence.

For example, if he starts telling lies to get attention or self-importance, this may be a first sign.

If he refuses to do an activity with friends because he does not consider himself good enough or because he is afraid of the eyes of others, this is another sign to watch closely.

The first reflex to adopt is to talk to him, to discuss it with him.

But if you feel, as a parent, that the lack of confidence is greater than you imagined, if you no longer know what to do to help it, you might as well turn to a professional. A special educator or a psychologist will be able to give you — and your child — the keys to regaining basic self-confidence.

Similarly, care must be taken to ensure that one's own child does not suffer school harassment (or humiliation). This represents 1 in 10 children in college despite all this harassment leads to school phobia, possible depression and can go much further in some cases.

The important thing is not to denigrate what he is or what he says. It should not be criticized negatively, because it generates stress that is not favorable to the development of self-confidence in children.

Finally, according to Isabelle Filliozat, comparison within the family is not a good thing.

Remarks such as “when I was your age…” or even “your brother knows that…” are an ineffective strategy and will encourage the child's guilt and lack of confidence.

On the contrary, work on the connection of the children in the siblings. Reassure, discuss together to improve the parent-child relationship. Then learn together to see the bright side of things.

Self-confidence works day after day, in every moment of our lives.

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