Confidence can be one of the most important traits a child can learn in their early years. It can help children to develop resilience, to approach lifelong learning with positivity and to enter into new situations with a can-do outlook. So how can we encourage young children to develop confidence as they grow and learn?
While many of the best confidence-building experiences can come from unstructured play and interaction, there’s also certainly a place for more intentional and structured support in childcare and education settings.
Children can build their confidence in a wide range of ways, including:
From the age of around 2 years and onwards, a child may begin observing others and use this observation to try the activity themselves. An example might be watching an older sibling or a friend go down the big slide at the park, and then building up the confidence to try it for the first time.
- Carrying out age-appropriate tasks
As you might know from experience, young children innately love to be helpful. Setting small, fun and age-appropriate tasks can be a great way to help little ones build up their confidence. For example, Aurrum Kids’ childcare centres include a greenhouse and kitchen garden where children love planting seedlings and tending to plants as they grow.
- Feedback, praise and encouragement
Positive feedback can be a powerful thing. Many children will use praise from adults and other children to shape their understanding and confidence in how they handle tasks. Praise that focuses on effort, rather than outcome, can encourage a positive can-do approach without fear of failure.
- Expressing and understanding confidence
Confidence is a way of feeling, as with all the emotions a child feels. It’s helpful for children to be able to identify their emotions and how they are feeling, so they can in turn recognise and understand their level of confidence. This is why our early childhood educators and our childcare curriculum in Mornington and Ballarat help each child to name and interpret their emotions while the child is playing, interacting and learning.
- Trial and error
Trial and error can be an important method in mastering skills and building confidence. Over time the child learns that ‘mistakes’ are not scary or negative things, but rather necessary and healthy aspects of learning and improving.
With time and confidence, a child learns that it’s good to try new things –
and that practising leads to positive outcomes.
The process of building confidence looks different for every child. It’s important that educators and parents understand the child’s way of learning and processing information, so that they can best help the child in building their confidence.