Helping kid and young adults build their own confidence can have significant and long-lasting effects. Confidence kids are better equipped to handle stress, more likely to take risks, feel more prideful in their work, and have increased determination to reach their goals. By helping kids build their self-esteem, we are giving kids the skills they need to achieve their own individual potentials.
Before reading, if you want a printable reminder of these 12 ways to help kids improve confidence, get the FREE confidence poster here. It is the perfect way to stay on top of giving kids and young adults what they need to be successful. As a bonus, it comes with a few other free social emotional learning posters you can hang on to as well!
Here are some simple ways to help kids build up their confidence levels:
Encourage a growth mindset. Kids and young adults need to see obstacles as challenges they can conquer with hard work and determination. They need to see failures as lessons that help them learn better for next time around. They need to believe that they can grow over time. This type of thinking, known as a growth mindset, is foundational to helping kids truly believe they can do anything they want if they work for it.
Encourage independence and risk-taking. Our classrooms really need to be a safe haven for all learners. Kids and young adults should feel comfortable in taking a risk and going outside of their comfort zone. Let kids complete tasks on their own, even if they don’t do them exactly how you envisioned. Sometimes this feels counter-intuitive but this will help give kids the confidence to see they are capable of things on their own.
Remind kids of their strengths. Take time to help kids actually identify their own unique strengths and abilities. Some kids really struggle with this activity. That’s when you know kids really need it! In those cases, I have asked kids to think about what a good friend would say about them. Have each student make a list of their strengths and keep it somewhere to help boost their confidence from time to time.
Give chances for every kid to shine. Take the extra time to recognize individual strengths with kids and put them to good use! If you have a student who is skilled with technology, use them to be your helper in setting up videos or computers. Ask a highly artistic student to help draw visuals for your bulletin board. If you know a learner who absolutely loves books, give them the role of being the class librarian and selecting new books for your collection. The list goes on and on! There are always ways to give all kids a chance to shine and feel good about themselves.
Give specific positive feedback. When a child or young adult is doing something well, let them know! It’s important to be extremely specific so he or she knows exactly what they are doing well. Dig deeper than “Nice job” and “You rock!”. Rather than saying, “Good job on your homework,” say, “I saw that you managed your time really well with your homework. Your started right away and worked completely on your own. Doesn’t that feel good to finish and do it well?” Yes, it’s a bit more work for the adult, but will help your learners see what they did well on specifically.
Teach positive self-talk. Our inner voice is so important when it comes to what we think about ourselves. If we think more positive thoughts, we can become those thoughts. Positive self-talk is increasingly more important today in our all-too-often negative digital world. Teach kids positive phrases and statements they can say to themselves to boost themselves up from time to time. Start with this free list of positive affirmations for kids to choose from.
Teach and discuss resilience. It’s so important to stress that we all experience challenges along the way. Teach and discuss resilience by talking about your own life experiences. Share what challenges you had to overcome to get to meet your goals. Use literature to highlight characters who show resilience by getting back up again when things don’t go their way. You can also highlight successful individuals who had to be resilient in order to meet success. Kids need to hear multiple times and in various ways that when you really want something, you should never give up.
Help kids set and meet individual goals. Spend time developing SMART goals with your learners on areas they really want to make improvements with. Some students might want to improve a grade in a class, while someone else might want to start attending an after school club to make more friends. Whatever the goal, it’s important for kids and young adults to see that if they set a goal and work hard, amazing things can happen.
Help kids celebrate their accomplishments. When kids meet a goal, it should be celebrated! Sometimes these goals are big like making the soccer team after working hard to try out, and other times they are smaller like bringing in homework every day for the week. If a student meets a specific goals they’ve been working on, let me know you notice and you care. It’s important for them to see that hard work pays off and that it’s worth it in the end!
Have kids reflect on growth. Kids and young adults need to see their progress over time. This could be charting grades, reviewing writing samples over several months, or noticing an improvement with behavior over a period of time. By looking at growth over time, kids and young adults can begin to be reflective and consider why they made the growth in the first place. This can help them to see that they are often in control of their own success. A few years ago, I implemented a weekly check-in with my learners. We would sit down and review their progress for the week and over time in general. The best part was that we could review whatever that individual student was working on.
Celebrate diversity and uniqueness. Every child and young adult should feel free to be themselves. In order to achieve this, we need to encourage acceptance and inclusion of others. Use this free tolerance and acceptance pledge to begin discussions with your learners about accepting and understanding those who are different than themselves.
Encourage kids to follow their passions. Spend time to help kids find what they’re interested in, whether it is dirt bikes, animals, painting, building, writing novels, music, or anything in between. Use that topic in your instruction, discuss it with them during morning meeting, or let them complete an independent project showing off their knowledge on the topic.
If you want resources ready to go, I have developed a self-esteem and confidence building activity set! The worksheets focus on building self-esteem while helping kids recognize their own individual talents. They include everything from writing activities and discussion starters to journals and hands-on materials. How do you help your learners build confidence? Let me know!