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4 min read

Confidence is the trust in one’s self that they have the ability to take on challenges and succeed. Building confidence in young children is essential to healthy development. It allows children to try new things, step out of their comfort zone, and to grow.

 

Confidence is something that can be nurtured and developed. How parents interact with their children has a strong influence on well (or not well) that the child builds confidence. A lack of confidence may lead to poor performance in school, vulnerability to bullies, missed opportunities, and lower quality relationships.

 

Parents can help boost confidence in toddlers in order to foster healthy development.

 

Show Love and Affection

Confidence grows when children feel like they have a safe place to go to if anything bad happens. If another child hurts their feelings, they need to know that mom will make them feel better. If they try something and fail, they need to know that dad will validate their feelings and provide encouragement.

 

Try these ways to actively show love and affection:

  • Say ‘I love you’ every day.
  • When you see your child in distress, offer a hug.
  • After discipline, remind them you still love them.
  • Talk to them about their feelings. Let them know they can come to you anytime to make it better.
  • Ask your toddler how they are feeling. Validate their feelings by saying something like ‘I am sorry that you are sad, how can I make you feel better? Do you need a hug?’

 

Toddlers need to hear you say the words. They need for mom and dad to tell them that they love them, that they validate their feelings, and that they will be ok. Toddlers are already battling an unfamiliar sea of strong emotions, trying to figure out if mom or dad really loves them should not be one of them.

 

Teach Resilience

As much as parents try to be there for every tear and every broken heart, it is not always possible or healthy. This is why it is important to actively teach toddlers resiliency so that they can handle bad feelings or bad situations without completely falling apart.

 

Resilience is a kind of emotional buoyancy that helps children weather the storm. Unfortunately, children need to experience hardship in order to learn resilience. While parents should not actively cause hardships for their toddlers, it is important not to try to shield them from anything that might naturally occur.

 

The most impactful thing that parents can do to teach resilience is to model appropriate coping behaviors. Life is difficult and when difficult things happen, parents should pay attention to how they cope - because their kids are watching (and learning). 

 

Help your Child Set Realistic Goals

Accomplishing a goal provides a feeling of victory. Each success builds confidence, teaching the child that he or she can do hard things. With each past success, they gain the confidence needed to try something bigger and better.

 

Parents should be intentional in helping toddlers set small goals that they can achieve on their own. Here are some things to try:

 

  • Make a new friend
  • Say something nice to someone
  • Have a good day at preschool
  • Recognize when someone is happy, sad, angry, etc.
  • Draw a circle
  • Learn the ABC’s
  • Pick up toys

 

Each time your child accomplishes a goal that you have set together, celebrate with them. Offering praise when it is due is another great way to boost confidence in toddlers.

 

Set Rules and Be Consistent

Individual confidence grows when the boundaries are clear. Boundaries are necessary and present in all areas of life. Boundaries tell us how it is appropriate to behave. They create clear expectations and work to maintain balance in relationships.

 

Boundaries are particularly effective with small children as they learn what type of behavior is appropriate. Consistency is equally important because it reinforces the rules that have been set.

 

Give Praise Freely

How often do you let your toddler know that you are happy with them for their behavior or actions? If you see your child doing something well, do you let them know?

 

Be intentional in letting your little one know when they have done something good. Praise should be given freely to reinforce affection and confidence. Toddlers should be able to easily decipher their parents' feelings. If they have done a good job, offer praise to let them know. If they have behaved poorly, offer a correction and appropriate feedback.

 

Balance is Most Important

Boosting your toddler’s confidence is all about building them up with positive experiences. Every interaction that you have as mom or dad affects how they seem themselves. If you routinely interact in positive ways like praising accomplishments or showing love and affection, your toddler is more likely to feel secure and gain confidence. Likewise, if you interact in negative ways with a lot of harsh words and unfair discipline, your child is more likely to be less secure.

 

Some parents might think that showering a toddler in love and affection is more like coddling them. And if done without the appropriate balance of consistent rules, it could be. But it would be a terrible thing to forego giving your toddler attention out of fear that you are coddling them.

 

Instead, try to find a balance between policing the rules and nurturing the child. Understand that there are times when it is appropriate to be stern and times when it is more appropriate to show understanding and compassion. Raising a healthy, balanced child starts at a very young age and is largely dependent on how the parents model behavior.

 

Give your toddler a boost in his or her confidence by finding ways to help them succeed. Set small goals with them and celebrate their successes. Give them clear boundaries and consistently offer consequences or rewards based on how well they respect those boundaries. Show them love and affection, but also encourage them to get out of their comfort zone and try new things.

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