Think about the times in your life when your confidence was put to the test. Perhaps you were interviewing for a new job, asking someone to dinner, or traversing a foreign country. These are all instances that demand a strong belief in your own abilities and strengths.
At Whitby, our focus is on empowering our students and giving them the confidence they need to succeed in a global community. Yet we can’t do it alone. Research has shown that parent involvement is key to helping students develop the skills they need to succeed.
Lessons in confidence-building should not end at the classroom walls.
As a parent, you have the opportunity to develop your child’s self esteem by encouraging them to take on challenges and learn from their mistakes. Your role is to offer guidance, not interference. That means, if your child is struggling with a problem, you shouldn’t give away a solution. Instead, ask thought-provoking questions or encourage different approaches.
Ready to get started challenging your child? Try one of these confidence building activities that you can do at home.
6 Self Esteem Activities to Try at Home
1. Packing for a Trip
Focus Skill: Independence
Instill confidence in your child by encouraging them to practice independence. Before you go on your next family trip, ask your child to pack their own suitcase. Once they’re packed, check the suitcase and prompt them to think about items they missed. Instead of saying, “You forgot your hiking shoes,” say, “Do you have everything you need for hiking the trail?”
2. Invent a Recipe
Focus Skill: Learning from Mistakes
Help your child see mistakes as learning opportunities, not failures. Gently encourage mistake-making by asking your child to invent their own pancake recipe. Have them write down an ingredient list and quantities of each item. Supervise the process so nothing dangerous is ingested, but do not interfere. Even if your child adds something unusual to the recipe (like goat cheese or garbanzo beans!), let them experiment. After cooking a test batch of pancakes, ask, “What could you have done differently?” Then, allow your child to modify the recipe and try again.
3. Make Slime!
Focus Skill: Teaching Others
Children can build self-assuredness and develop confidence by demonstrating newly-learned skills when interacting with others. Give your child a chance to impress their friends and have fun by teaching them to build “slime” (a gooey substance that can be stretched or molded). Start by giving your child a recipe for “slime” and have them follow directions without your help. Once your child has concocted their slime, ask them to explain the process to you. Then, invite friends over! Have your child demonstrate the slime-making process before everyone tries it for themselves.
4. Chore with a Purpose
Focus Skill: Care of Environment
Taking on a consistent chore can be a huge responsibility. In order to promote your child’s confidence in their ability to care for their environment, have them pick out a special chore. They could be in charge of watering the plants, walking the dog, or sweeping the floor. Compliment them for good, consistent behavior with specific praises such as, “The plants look nice and healthy because you’ve been watering them regularly” or “Thank you for walking the dog every day. I know he enjoys it!”
5. Float Your Boat
Focus Skill: Problem-Solving
Problem-solving is one of the best self esteem activities. Give your child an open-ended challenge and let them brainstorm ways to create solutions. One great exercise is to give your kid several items from the recycling bin—milk jugs, cans, cardboard, glass jars—and challenge them to build a boat. Provide tape, glue, string…and nothing else! Let them experiment with different ways to put together their boat. Then test their creation in a lake or pond. This is also an excellent group activity.
6. Serve a Snack
Focus Skill: Multi-Step Planning
Develop your child’s confidence in their cognitive skills by giving them a multi-step challenge. Ask them to plan, prepare and serve a snack (or a lunch, for older children). This task forces your little one to think about many different things at once: what to serve, how to prepare the food, how to set the table, etc. This activity encourages multi-step planning and gives them the confidence that they can solve an open-ended challenge.
Step Forward with Confidence
When your child believes in their ability to overcome mistakes and accomplish tasks all on their own, they will feel empowered to take on challenges in school and in life. While there is no magic key to unlock every child’s inner-confidence, these activities will give you a good starting point. The key to helping your child trust in their abilities is look for opportunities to challenge them and then to let them seek solutions on their own.
If you’d like to learn more ways to empower your children, sign up for one of our upcoming Parents as Partners parenting workshops. These parenting classes are open to the public and are led by Whitby’s veteran Montessori and International Baccalaureate trained educators.