It’s possible that every parent feels a rush of pride the first time their child accomplishes something for the first time: first time rolling over, first time sitting up; first steps, first words, first… It is almost unfortunate that children experiencing those firsts are too young to be amazed at their newfound ability to do such incredible things and equally tragic that other new skills, such as feeding themselves and communicating, kids simply take for granted. Still, parental awe notwithstanding, the fact remains that each new skill and ability is built upon until – some might say all too soon, kids are running about the play park and shrieking in delight while going down the slide. Where did they find the confidence to do all of that? In that early stage of childhood, fear has yet to be learned. When you have nothing to fear, you have no need for confidence; everything is matter-of-fact. Perhaps that is why parents can only witness their child’s dawning self-awareness between the ages of three and five, and that the things they can do are amazing. Have you ever seen a child go from faltering to mastery, eyes wide with wonder and disbelief that s/he can actually execute that particular act? That remarkable “Oh, Wow!” moment, the unbridled glee; the feeling, just for a moment, that the secrets of the universe are that much closer to being revealed? Would you like to have a way to bring about more such moments in your child? Moments that will build their confidence and foster a lifelong feeling of empowerment? Read on to discover fun activities and games that will leave a lasting positive mark.
Basic Confidence Building Activities for Young Children
Above, we mentioned running around the playground; that’s really not a bad place for activities that will boost confidence in young children.
Look, Mum, I’m swinging myself!
It’s common for parents to hover over their toddlers as they clamber all over the play equipment. They hold their child’s hand as s/he goes down the slide and brace them on the seesaw or the roundabout. They hoist their tykes onto the swing and push them – not too high. It was from a swing that I heard that gleeful shout; the little boy, all blond hair and mile-wide grin had just mastered moving his body back and forth to keep the swing in motion. So effusive was his joy that I too felt elated. Did that child now see himself as a master of the universe? What would he try to do next? Common activities such as these, on the playground and around the house can lay the foundation for confidence. Hopscotch, roller skates, scootering and bike riding: all of these outdoor activities require a measure of skill and, more importantly, confidence to do well. They are a great way to build self-esteem in your child.
Activities For Building Confidence in Older Children
Playground accomplishments are most impactful on 4- to 6-year-olds and bike-riding would be a great self-esteem booster for a 6- or 7-year-old – the age when learning to ride a bike (a scooter and roller skates) is most common.
If your child is 8 or older, you might consider organised sports like football or basketball.
Besides the rush kids get from playing – being able to kick the ball while running or race down the length of the court while dribbling the ball are no mean feat, the feeling of inclusion, of being a member of a team is, in itself, a positive affirmation of their self-worth. Other sports your child might be interested in include:
- Track and field - distance and track running as well as other events such as discus throwing and jumping
- Rock climbing
- Martial Arts such as kung fu, judo, taekwondo and even boxing
Of course, activities to build confidence and self-esteem don’t have to be sports-related. If your child has a musical bent, encouraging them to learn how to play a musical instrument can help them become more confident and, if s/he tends more towards the intellectual, you might find a debate club for them to sharpen their skills. They could learn another language, in school or with a Superprof tutor, while they're at it!
Activities for Building Self-Confidence in Teenagers
Adolescence is when low self-esteem likes to take root. A poor self-image coupled with negative thoughts, often caused by social pressure at school, can lead to self-doubt even if your teen had a strong sense of self early in life. A lack of self-confidence can impact everything school-related from academic competence to the ability to confidently sit exams, things that could set off a toxic spiral of self-doubt and low self-esteem. To keep your teen from feeling insecure and shut out negative self-talk, keeping them engaged is vital. Moreover, it is important for teens to develop self-confidence to help them resist peer pressure. You might, for example, teach them how to cook or sew, garden or repair things. Working on a car and/or preparing a meal together will not only make your teen feel good but this type of activity can also play to their strengths and creativity. Speaking of creativity… Teen years are the perfect time to participate in the community. You might suggest volunteering – helping people is a great way of learning compassion as well as assertiveness. You could also recommend auditioning for a role at the local theatre, joining a church choir or reading a book to young kids at the library. Did you know there were lots of books about kids being confident? The main idea is to get those teens out of their comfort zone where, perhaps, their lack of confidence keeps them trapped in an echo chamber of negativity.
If that is where your teen is (or is headed), it’s time to take action!
Moving them out of ‘no self-esteem’, beyond ‘good enough’ and into ‘self-assured’ is both a labour of love and a trying task but, when things get tough, remind yourself: they need to have the confidence to overcome any difficulties they may face in life.
Games to Build Self-Confidence
Learning new things and mastering complex skills; inclusion and positive thinking: these are all ways to build self-confidence in children as young as five years old. However, one cannot continuously run around, engaged in physical activity. Even little kids, as energetic as they are, need a bit of calm. Sitting down and playing a game is the perfect end-of-day (or rainy day) way to both relax and gain confidence, especially with these rounds of play.
The Tower of Self-Esteem
This game features colour-coded question cards that the players use to build a strong, sturdy tower. Yellow cards contain questions that address social skills, blue cards are meant to stimulate personal development and red cards are for strengthening emotional intelligence. You might encounter questions such as ‘What am I good at?’, ‘What could I learn from others?’ and ‘What makes me feel happy?’ This game is suitable for children ages 8 and up but precocious 6-year-olds could play, too. It encourages conversation and provides a gateway to discuss emotions objectively. It also encourages cooperation as the players must work together to build the tower.
Totem, The Feel-Good Game
Totem is also a card game but its focus is less on introspection and more on positivity. The Totems in question are a combination of animals and qualities, depicted on two complementary sets of cards. Depending on the totem received, players will describe you. The trick is that the cards other players hold are meant to describe you, so get ready to hear a lot of compliments and affirmations. The best part is that you too get to make the other players happier by describing them based on the cards you hold! This game is meant for players at least 8 years old but younger players would have no problems dishing out a compliment if they’re advanced enough or get a little help. Remarkably, this game is also effective for team-building at work so, if you have workmates who are shy or lack confidence, you might bring your Totem game to the office and play a round or two.
You Know Social Skills
This game is ideal for teens as well as younger children because it encourages them to talk about themselves. They may expound on any insecurities and weaknesses they might have and reflect on their strengths. In appearance, this game resembles a deck of Uno cards, down to the colour scheme, the wild cards and the total number of cards per pack. Each card leads with ‘Would you rather…’ and then offers a choice between two similar situations, as in this example: “Would you rather everyone in your family have one wish (Why?) or that you would have three wishes (what would you wish for)? Not only will this game help your teens gain self-confidence through expressing their ideas but it will make you feel closer than ever to your increasingly remote adolescents. There are lots more activities and games to help your child be more self-confident, no matter what age. Perhaps you even know of a few activities or games that you’ve used to help your kids feel more confident; if so, please let us know about them! Now discover what steps to take to build your child’s self-esteem…
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