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By Keren Perles
For kids, developing confidence is key to making their way through the growing pains of adolescence. “Confident children are able to try new things, meet and adapt to other people, and deal with mistakes when something bad happens," says clinical psychologist Dr. Suzanne Reiffel. Confidence pays an important role in every part of a kid's life—not only socially, but academically too.
Focus on Strengths
Help your child realize what's special about her. For example, she might like to play basketball, draw, take care of her baby brother, or care for animals. These strengths don't need to be things that she's “the best” at, or even things she's succeeded in—they're just her unique interests that make her who she is. Appreciating these attributes can give her a boost when she encounters difficulties.
Practice Confident Body Language
Praise Effort, Not Results
When pouring on the praise for an achievement, focus on the effort your child put in and not the result. For example, say, "Wow, those hours shooting hoops in the driveway really paid off!" or "I'm so proud of all the hard work you did to get the A!" Directing his attention this way will demonstrate that it's trying his best and not being the best that's important. It will also make his self-esteem more resilient if he doesn't make the cut next time.
Teach How to React to Criticism
Self-confidence might not sprout overnight, but these approaches will get your kid on the path to empowerment. A confident child is be able to face whatever the world throws at her. When she doesn't get a part in a play, when she doesn't make a team, when someone whose opinion she respects gives her criticism, it is her confidence that will help her pull through and learn from the experience, rather than getting bogged down in disappointment.
Is a bully wearing away at your kid's confidence? Check out these 7 ways to help kids cope with bullying.