Check out the courses we offer
Knowledge Base » Care » Strategies for Parents to Foster Confidence in Children

Strategies for Parents to Foster Confidence in Children

As parents, it is natural that we worry about our children. We worry about their safety and wellbeing and what the future may hold for them. Many of us may question whether our children will be able to cope with future challenges, especially those challenges that present themselves when we are not there. It is important that we do not let this parental anxiety affect our children and that we encourage them to be confident and autonomous individuals. 

Confidence goes hand in hand with resilience. Confident children will develop the necessary resilience to deal with the challenges that life throws at them later down the line. We can help our children to feel confident and empowered by showing them that they are loved and supported, validating their feelings and allowing them to make their own decisions. 

Encouraging a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is a belief that we can all learn and grow our skills, talents and abilities through hard work, learning and perseverance. Growth mindsets are centred around ideas of self-improvement and continuous learning. 

The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset often believe that their abilities and talents are innate and that they have limited influence over how successful they can be in life.

  • A growth mindset represents freedom. A fixed mindset represents limitation.
  • A growth mindset perseveres in the face of adversity. A fixed mindset avoids challenges.
  • A growth mindset accepts feedback and learns from mistakes. A fixed mindset ignores feedback.
  • A growth mindset strives to learn and improve. A fixed mindset resists change.

It is never too early to encourage a growth mindset in children. It is actually discussed in some early years foundation studies (EYFS) frameworks for preschool-aged children. Some of the very basic building blocks of fostering a growth mindset in young children include:

  • Congratulating a child for showing effort or willingness
  • Giving positive and constructive feedback
  • Exploring ways to learn and improve
  • Reflecting on the amount of work a child puts into activities or challenges
  • Expressing to them that they are learning or their brain is growing

Parents with a fixed mindset will often overuse the phrase I’m doing my best with little or no acknowledgement that they have control over their efforts or output, as if their ‘best’ is something predetermined and static.

Combined with other positive strategies a growth mindset can help youngsters to embrace opportunities for learning and improvement, as well as to develop resilience when faced with challenges.

Strategies for parents

Providing a Supportive Environment

Children thrive when they grow up in a safe and supportive environment. Children need to feel loved unconditionally and they need to have their basic needs met. Children’s basic needs are not only physical (such as providing food, water, shelter and clean clothes) but also mental and emotional. 

To help children feel safe and supported, parents can:

  • Encourage an open line of communication
  • Employ active listening techniques
  • Avoid making children feel judged
  • Try not to compare one child to another, as this is unhelpful and can build up feelings of resentment
  • Validate their feelings and emotions
  • Endorse that mental health matters – let your child know that they can talk to you about how they are feeling without the worry of stigma or judgement
  • Spend time together having fun and learning new things
  • Encourage your child to express themselves and be an individual
  • Try to provide stability at home and avoid exposing your child to adult stressors (financial troubles, relationship problems etc.)

An amount of anxiety is normal in both children and adults, especially before big events such as exam days, football games, first day at school/university etc. If this anxiety seems to exceed the norm or is having a significant impact on a child’s daily activities, it is a good idea to talk to a doctor. 

Setting Realistic Goals and Expectations

It is important to set realistic and achievable goals for our children. Knowing how to set goals and track success can help children perform better at school and learn lifelong skills that can help them to manage expectations and thrive in the workplace and beyond.

To help children with goal setting:

  • Try not to let them get overwhelmed by anxiety or worry by teaching coping strategies such as mindfulness, deep breathing or tapping
  • Focus on progress rather than on immediate outcomes or achievements
  • Let your child know that it is okay to fail
  • Break problems down into smaller, more manageable steps
  • Avoid telling your child you are disappointed in them
  • Never admonish a child for being who they are, try saying things like ‘That behaviour is not what I expect’ rather than telling them that they are the problem
  • Explain to them the importance of being realistic
  • Foster critical thinking skills in them such as identifying obstacles and making a plan to achieve what they have set out to do

Most importantly, we should ensure our children know that whilst having goals gives us something to focus on and a sense of self-worth, success does not always come immediately. It may take three, four, five attempts or even more to succeed at something and the fact that they keep trying, when they could so easily give up, is a key indicator of resilience and confidence. 

Encouraging Independence and Decision-Making

It is important that children are given independence in a safe, controlled and age-appropriate way. Their sense of danger, ability to problem solve and level of critical thinking are developing constantly, right from birth to early adulthood. 

The pre-frontal cortex of the brain, the part responsible for impulse control, rationale and decision-making, does not finish forming until our early to mid-twenties. It is therefore vital to allow children to be independent or make their own decisions in a way that is right for their maturity level and developmental stage. Too much or too little independence can be problematic and this can be a difficult balance for parents to strike. 

Encouraging children to make choices, problem solve and take initiative can boost their self-confidence. You can start in small and controlled ways such as:

  • Letting them choose what clothes they wear.
  • Asking them to tell you when they think it is safe to cross the road whilst still holding their hand. Explain the consequences of unsafe road crossing and encourage them to be sensible.
  • Asking them to place their own order in a restaurant or fast-food outlet rather than doing it for them.
  • Giving them a small list of tasks or chores to complete in a week. This can help with their organisation and time management skills as well as give them a sense of achievement. Offering a small financial reward at the end may also help!
  • Older children might benefit from being sent to the local shop to buy a couple of grocery items. This can help build confidence and social skills, as well as help them to understand responsibility and how money works.
Parents fostering confidence in children

Providing Constructive Feedback

Constructive criticism is critical for children’s development; however, it is crucial that we understand the difference between being constructive and being negative. Using the wrong words and making a child feel bad about themselves can sow negative thoughts in children’s minds that can affect them for their whole lives. 

The right type of critique can help a child to learn, reflect and develop a growth mindset; the wrong type of critique can destroy their self-esteem and cause them to close down and stop listening to feedback altogether. 

  • Constructive criticism focuses on the positive and highlights areas for improvement. Negative criticism focuses mainly on what the child did wrong and does not offer suggestions or help.
  • Constructive feedback is specific and highlights areas for improvement and gives tips on how this can be done. Negative criticism is not focused on educating and is judgemental rather than helpful.
  • Constrictive feedback asks questions and involves the child in the process. Negative criticism will simply tell them what the parent expects to be done differently.

Rather than saying something like ‘This piece of artwork doesn’t look very imaginative’, try saying ‘Wow I love the colours you used, do you think you can vary them a bit more next time? Let’s try using five different colours!’ or ‘Okay, I like your picture…should we try to use some different media next time to make it a bit more exciting – how about some glitter!’

If a child has done badly on a test, rather than complaining about their score, try asking them what went wrong – maybe they were nervous or they need a bit of extra support in key areas. Constructive critique can help to find a solution whereas being negative will just make the child feel bad but will not help them to perform better next time.

To provide constructive criticism to their children parents should try to:

  • Be clear and consistent (but not harsh)
  • Encourage self-reflection – ‘How could you do this better in future?’ ‘How might you do things differently next time?’
  • Inject some humour to lighten the mood – children react well when we are funny or silly with them
  • Let children be creative and ask for their input and feedback
  • Encourage problem solving and critical thinking rather than giving them the answers or getting frustrated with them

It is vital that we don’t expect perfection from our children as this is unrealistic and does not help to foster confidence. It is better to reward progress, even the smallest amount, rather than complain about mistakes. 

Embracing Failure and Learning from Mistakes

It is vital that children learn that failing is nothing to be ashamed of and mistakes provide an opportunity for learning. If we never try, we never fail but we also limit our chances of success.  

We can help our children to deal with failing by talking to them about what went wrong, what they have learned and what they can do differently next time to change the outcome. This approach develops critical thinking skills and can also give us the opportunity to praise perseverance and build resilience in our children. 

Celebrating Achievement and Efforts

It is important that we celebrate our children’s achievements no matter how small. This helps them to build good self-esteem and feel positive about themselves.

Celebrating your child’s achievements and efforts:

  • Shows them that you take an interest in their life and that you pay attention to them
  • Validates them and makes them feel special
  • Helps to foster a growth mindset
  • Boosts their self-esteem

It is also nice to offer rewards to children when they have done something well or overcome a challenge, for example doing well on a test they were nervous about or tidying up without being asked. Rewards don’t have to be anything extravagant; you could simply cook them their favourite meal or take them on a trip to the park!

Fostering Positive Self-Image

In a world where airbrushed, filtered photos and people living their ‘best life’ are ubiquitous on social media, it is arguably more important than ever that we help our children to develop a positive self-image. A positive self-image builds self-esteem and confidence. 

A self-image extends beyond how secure we feel about our looks; people with a positive self-image have learnt to accept themselves, like who they are as a person and they tend to have a positive outlook on life.

Children need to know that they are loved and accepted for who they are. To help your child build good self-esteem try to:

  • Praise them for things they do well
  • Don’t make a big deal of their mistakes
  • Avoid comparing them to their siblings or peers
  • Encourage them to love themselves inside and out
  • Focus on positive aspects of their personality as well as their looks
  • Smile and use positive body language
  • Give plenty of reassurance and cuddles
  • Validate their feelings and normalise talking about mental health

Try not to project your own insecurities or anxieties onto your children as this can be very damaging to them.

Encouraging Exploration and Curiosity 

Children have naturally curious and enquiring minds and will often have an endless stream of questions about the natural world, history and how things work. 

Young minds will benefit from new and varied experiences both in and out of the school environment including days out, museum trips, visiting new cities or countries and learning a new language. 

Hobbies and extra-curricular activities outside of school help children to develop their personalities, hone their skills, learn responsibility and increase their social circle. 

As parents we should offer our children the opportunity to explore their own interests and pursue their passions. This includes letting them try new hobbies and interests and going at their own pace. 

Some parents try to live vicariously through their children. Although it is natural to want our children to have the opportunities that we didn’t, it is vital to view them as individuals rather than extensions of us as parents. Children will develop greater self-confidence if they are allowed to be their authentic selves and find what works for them. It might be sport, arts, Scouts, theatre or something totally different that excites them – even if you don’t share their passion and would prefer them to choose a different route, don’t tell them that. 

We know that allowing children to make some of their own decisions fosters confidence and increases independence. Whilst we want to encourage our children to be persistent and resilient, if they choose to stop a hobby because they are not enjoying it anymore, parents should be open to discussing this. By putting unnecessary pressure on them to continue something they don’t enjoy can actually damage their self-esteem. 

Modelling Positive Behaviour

As parents, we are role models for our children and is important that we model good behaviour for them. We cannot expect children to become confident and happy if we are demonstrating anxiety, worry and a lack of confidence ourselves. Even if we are not always feeling our best selves, we should show our children that we can tackle life’s challenges with confidence and positivity. 

We can acknowledge that we feel anxious or worried as these are normal feelings, but we should not let such feelings define us. This can help children to learn that it is okay to feel scared sometimes but that stepping outside of our comfort zone and facing our fears is how we all learn and grow. 

Confidence in Children


Never underestimate the power of providing a nurturing and supportive environment for your child or the transformative effect of parental support. With the right strategies and help, all children can learn to overcome challenges and grow into confident and resilient teens and adults. 

Confidence Building Course

Confidence Building

Just £20

Study online and gain a full CPD certificate posted out to you the very next working day.

Take a look at this course

About the author

Vicky Miller

Vicky Miller

Vicky has a BA Hons Degree in Professional Writing. She has spent several years creating B2B content and writing informative articles and online guides for clients within the fields of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, recruitment, education and training. Outside of work she enjoys yoga, world cinema and listening to fiction podcasts.

Similar posts