Building confidence in children and youth: A bouncing and stretching article

Learn how you can help your child learn to bounce back and stretch their limits when setbacks happen. Seven easy ways to build resilience in kids.

Confidence is one of the 7 C’s of resilience. According to Dr. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, “children cannot gain genuine confidence without experiencing their own competence.” Why is confidence important to children and youth? They need to know that they can manage challenges and have some power over their environment. What is confidence? Real confidence (different than self-esteem) comes from demonstrated competence and that helps to build resilience. In other words, a child has swam a lap in a pool so he believes in his ability and is confident he can do it again.

Helping children and youth build confidence can be done in three basic ways that offer support and reinforcement.

  • Catch them being good: Reinforce the good things that children and youth do; focus on the good things by offering appreciative words and praise. Recognizing and appreciating the good things that children do while they are doing them will make them more likely to continue to repeat those things.
  • Offer genuine praise: Praise can be a wonderful way to show your child how much you appreciate them, but be sure to make it specific. Instead of saying, “You’re so nice!” identify what they were nice for, “It was thoughtful of you to pick up your toys without me asking you.”
  • Set reasonable expectations: Knowing your child can help you set reasonable expectations for them that help stretch them, but are a good fit with their individual personality.

For a deeper look at helping build confidence in children and youth, check out Building Resilience in Children and Teens by Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg. For more information and resources about developing resiliency in children and youth, visit Fostering Resilience, the Search Institute and the Devereux Center for Resilient Children. For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website. This is the third article in a series: Bouncing and Stretching and Building Competence in Children and Youth.

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