We start praising our kids from the moment they’re born. “Yay! You can hold your head up!” We even research what words are the best kind to use for praises. But because all kids are different, words from Mom might not be the best way to build self-esteem. There are confidence-building activities for kids that appeal to all sorts of personalities.
I asked my 8-year-old, “What gives you confidence?” He paused for about 30 seconds and said, “Having a plan.” Man, I love that kid. I knew that was his honest answer and it affirmed that when it comes to building confidence in him, there might be a better way than “atta boy.” Here are 7 ideas that might be a better way for your child.
Assigning age-appropriate chores helps you out, but it also tells your child you trust him with something important. It reminds him he’s contributing to a team. When the mirror is cleaned or the dishes are put away, give him a high five, even if it’s not done to perfection. For big kids, you can lean on them to run errands or take care of the pets.
Give the negative voice a name.
Full disclosure: I do this myself. If another person talked to me the way I sometimes talk to myself, I’d call him or her a bully. So I’ve given this inner critic a name and I tell her kindly, “I know this is you. You’re not welcome here right now.” If your child struggles with a negative internal voice, empower him or her with this tool.
Create a family compliment jar.
If your child does appreciate verbal praise, seeing it in writing makes it even more powerful. So grab a jar and some strips of construction paper. Assign each family member a different color. When you see something you appreciate or want to praise, grab that person’s color, write a short note, and put it in the jar. The kids can write, too. In my family, we read from our notes at dinner. It’s a sweet, feel-good moment.
Sometimes you just have to remind them of what they’ve accomplished. A lot of adults do this at the end of a calendar year as they think about New Year’s Resolutions. Looking back over accomplishments like, “I learned to tie my shoes,” or “I got all A’s and B’s in math” is a great way to have confidence that the next challenge can be met head-on! Try kid-friendly goal setting with your kids and watch their confidence soar.
Switch up the p-word.
This might not fall into the category of confidence-building activities for kids, because it’s a job for moms, but I bet you’ll hear a change in your kids’ vocabulary, too. I’m guilty of evaluating my kids’ work with “perfect.” When my son chops tomatoes, instead of saying, “Well done,” I’ll say, “Perfect.” That’s all good and well until perfection becomes the standard that needs to be met. If you aim for progress instead of perfection, your child will gain confidence because progress is always attainable.
If you aim for progress instead of perfection, your child will gain confidence because progress is always attainable.
Use the power of “yet.”
Adding this tiny three-letter-word is a game-changer. It turns “I can’t ride a bike” into “I can’t ride a bike yet,” and “I don’t know how to speak Spanish” into “I don’t know how to speak Spanish yet.” Adding “yet” turns a dead-end into potential.
Pack a picnic.
My plan-loving son would become giddy if I told him we’re going on a backyard picnic and he gets to pack the basket. He’ll get to exercise his independence when he designs the lunch menu and he’ll have to think of all the supplies we’ll need. Try to avoid creating a list or asking your child if he remembered to pack specific items. Instead of saying, “Did you remember to pack plates” ask, “Do we have everything we need for serving and eating?” If he forgot something, he’ll learn from his mistakes and realize that workarounds are possible.
What do you do to build confidence in your kids?