The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often used interchangeably, but they actually have slightly different meanings. Self-confidence is developed out of a sense of competence. Mastering a skill like riding a bike gives a child a sense that they are capable, even if the process involves making mistakes.. Self-esteem is when a kid feels valued, accepted, and proud of his or her accomplishments. Both self-confidence and self-esteem play a big role in helping kids succeed academically, socially, and emotionally, ultimately allowing them to be better equipped for all of life’s challenges and obstacles. Here are a few simple ways you can help your child develop both self-confidence and self-esteem.
Set Small, Achievable Goals
Every time a child masters a new skill, whether it is learning how to tie their shoe or learning how to ride a bike, they get a tiny jolt of self-induced positive reinforcement; an immediate confidence boost. With a more complex skill like riding a bike, it’s important for kids to feel like they are mastering something.. I In the CYCLE Kids program, students learn how to adjust a helmet, adjust their seat height, use their breaks, and signal for turns and stops before they even get to try riding. By the time they hop on the bike, their confidence is already boosted from all of the small skills they’ve mastered.
Offer Skill-Specific Feedback
As their confidence grows, teachers, parents, and peers play a pivotal role in developing self- esteem by offering skill-specific feedback and praise. This means leave the harsh criticism and generic “great job!” comments behind, and instead link your feedback or praise to a specific skill. You can say something like: “I noticed that you were having a hard time balancing on your bike during the hand signal exercise. Make sure you are sitting up straight and keep your head up; this will help your balance”. Then, when the child implements your feedback, you can offer praise, like:, “Great job balancing on your bike during that hand signal exercise; your practice really paid off!”.
Focus on Strengths, Not Weaknesses
Helping your child discover their strengths instead of focusing on what they need to improve is an effective approach to developing confidence and self-esteem. This does not mean you have to be “fake”, but instead focus on offering praise for positive attributes and accomplishments, instead of focusing on where the child is lacking. This could sound like “You’re so brave for trying something new!”. This helps the child aspire to their strengths instead of fearing their weaknesses.
Praise the Effort, Not the Outcome
While having an end goal is important in order to develop self-confidence and self-esteem, it’s important to praise the effort and not the outcome. This means letting your children know that their hard work, dedication, and persistence is more important than reaching their end goal.
It’s important to let your child know that mistakes are all part of the process, and perfection is not the goal. Remember, self-esteem is developed out of a sense of feeling valued and accepted. If your child hops on a bike for the first time and quickly falls off, get excited (after you make sure he or she is safe)! Let them know that mistakes are proof that they’re trying, and the only way to succeed in the long run is to make a few mistakes along the way.
Self-confidence and self-esteem intersect when children master a new skill, and feel good about themselves because of it. What skill can you help them master this summer? Perhaps it’s riding a bike or learning how to swim. Let us know in the comments below!