How do I build Self-Confidence in my child?

What’s the difference between Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem?

Self-confidence and self-esteem often get used interchangeably. Actually though, there’s a huge difference between the two.

As I mentioned in a previous article, Self-Esteem is a judgement of your ‘Worth’ to Society. Self-Confidence, on the other hand, is a judgement on your abilities.

Your child may be completely happy with who they are. They might lead a study group at school and be the Captain of the football team, but they suck at drawing and playing instruments.

They have a high self-esteem, but low self-confidence in Art and Music.

I hope this has made things clearer.


How do I know if my child has low self-confidence?

Honestly, it’s not always easy to tell. Provided they’re getting adequate encouragement in the subjects and activities, etc. they do at school, they should draw confidence from that.

One of the main indicators, from a parent’s perspective is when they often mention poor results, in a particular subject.

Over time, if they’re struggling in a particular subject and they don’t get the help and encouragement THEY think they need, their confidence in their ability to do well in that subject decreases.

What can I do to help?

There are several things you can do to help grow confidence in every area of their life. I’ve listed a few here to give you some ideas. Many of them also increase self-esteem….

  • Give praise when it’s due. You don’t have to only give praise when something is a success. You can also praise a good effort.
  • Help them become resilient. No one is good at everything. Teach them that to fail is a learning experience. There will be setbacks and failures, criticism and pain, but it just means they’re better at other things.
  • Support their passions. If there’s something they really like to do, indulge them. Even if it’s infrequent, by doing something they like they’ll become more confident.
  • Be consistent with the rules. Kids like rules to have structure (even if they don’t always agree with them). Rules will change over time, but having structure gives children the confidence to say ‘No’ to their friends, etc. if they’re asked to do something they shouldn’t, because ‘the rules are the rules’.
  • Focus on their strengths. Praise their strengths and help them understand that their weaknesses are not a reflection on them as a person. It’s just that, like everyone else, they’re better at some things than others.
  • Give them choices and listen to what they want. Obviously, you’re in charge of the decisions. After all, you’re the adult. But, listen to what they want and, if possible give them the opportunity to do the things they like. If you feel you can’t, at least explain to them why you’ve made your decision, so they feel heard. Even if they don’t get what they want, the fact that their opinion was listened to, will give them the confidence to give their opinions later.
  • Let them help with chores. Obviously age related chores. I wouldn’t suggest letting a four year old help with the ironing, but there’s plenty of things they can help with. Helping out, helps them build confidence because they’re doing ‘adult’ things.

I’m sure you can think of other ways and I’d love it if you’d add them to the comments 🙂


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Steve, the Founder of Teen Anxiety UK, has been writing books and articles about various aspects of Psychology since 2006.

His formal qualifications include Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Child Psychology.

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