Top 10 Confidence-Building Exercises For Kids

A high level of self-confidence is essential for your child to attain success in life. Therefore, as a parent, you can get your child to engage in these self-confidence building exercises.

By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj  • 9 min read

Top 10 Confidence-Building Exercises For Kids

How do you think some celebrated personalities like Thomas Alva Edison, Helen Keller, Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln attained success in their chosen paths, despite the challenges they faced? The answer is ‘self-confidence’. This positive emotion, along with healthy self-esteem, sets apart these successful individuals from the others.

As parents, it is our duty to ensure our children grow up with self-confidence and positive self-esteem. One of the key ways to do this is through confidence-building exercises. Before we take a look at some fun and interesting games as a part of confidence-building measures, let us see what we mean by self-confidence.

What is self-confidence?

The APA (American Psychological Association) Dictionary of Psychology defines it thus: 'trust in one’s abilities, capacities, and judgment'; it is the 'belief that one is capable of successfully meeting the demands of a task'.

Why is self-confidence important?

A high level of self-confidence will –

  • make your child feel good about himself
  • motivate him to strive towards success
  • improve his social skills 
  • help him realise his true potential
  • enable him to make wise decisions 

Also read: How self-esteem affects your child's motivation levels

Confidence building

As a parent, it is important that you help boost your child's confidence and build positive self-esteem in her. Here are some ways to do it –

  • Empathise with her feelings
  • Make her believe in herself
  • Praise her efforts
  • Get her to accept failure and learn from it
  • Let her understand that no one is perfect
  • Engage her in confidence-building activities

For more such tips, read: Help build your child's self-esteem

Also read: How to boost your kid's self-esteem in the early years

Confidence-building exercises

Engage your child in the following confidence-building activities and watch her unravel her potentials.

Top 10 Confidence-Building Exercises For Kids

1. The 'goodness' slip: This can be a good family bonding game. Sit around in a circle after dinner. Pass around slips of paper and a pen to each family member. Each person should write down one good quality or strength about each of the other members. Play some music and when the music stops, each person should read out the quality. The others should guess the person who possesses that quality. You’ll be surprised to see even your diffident child smiling when something good is read about her. The game can continue with more music, more writing down and more reading out.

2. Take a peep inside: Set aside some quiet time towards the end of the day. Get your children to spend some time reflecting on their own strengths and positive aspects of their personality and jotting them down in a diary. After the quiet time, ask them to read aloud what they had noted down. Even a child who has low self-esteem will sit up when he realises what a long list of strengths he possesses.

3. Present a bio: This can be a fun party game for children. During weekends, let your child and his cousins or friends engage in this interesting activity. Let each person make a presentation on the theme – ‘My bio’. Ask them to prepare a mini-narrative about themselves – their interests, hobbies, achievements, and so on. The presentation can be in the form of a speech, poster, Ppt, album, etc. They can begin their sentences with phrases such as, ‘I am good at…’, ‘I am proud of myself because…’, or ‘I am happy that I can…’. Such presentations will be a self-revelation for children about their true potential. The children can bring in a self-advertisement/commercial angle to the presentations.

4. Make a daily log: Get the children to write at least one accomplishment or one good deed of theirs every day on a poster on their room’s wall. If any child struggles to come up with something, talk to the child to find out about the day’s happenings and help him narrow down on that one aspect and jot it down. Sometimes, a simple deed of letting someone in a hurry pass by him on a crowded staircase may be forgotten by your child. Or, even answering a tough question in the class. But, when you underline it during your discussion, your child will become aware of what he has done and it will boost his confidence.

5. Portrait trees: Set up a flannel-board on one corner of the wall in your living room. Stick photographs of your children on the board. Write down the good qualities and strengths of each child on slips of paper and stick them above the photograph. Get the extended members of your family and friends also to do the same whenever they visit you. These portrait trees with the compliments will serve as a feel-good factor to your child and up his confidence level.

Top 10 Confidence-Building Exercises For Kids

6. Throw darts: Fix a dart-board on a wall in your child’s room. Ask her to write down her fears and what she considers to be her weaknesses on pieces of paper and fix them to the dartboard using magnets. Then, sit and talk to her about how to convert the weaknesses to strengths. Together, chart out a plan to address the issues. As you talk about each issue, ask her to aim her dart on the piece of paper which has the issue written on it and throw the dart saying, ‘I can do it!’. Make this a daily exercise, until your child has overcome the weaknesses.

Top 10 Confidence-Building Exercises For Kids

7. Pretend play: Encourage your child to engage in pretend play and role-play activities with his cousins and friends during weekends and holidays. Ask him to choose the role of characters whom he thinks would be a challenge to emulate. For example, if he is diffident about participating in sports, ask him to imagine being a famous sportsperson and address a press conference following a victory. Such activities will help your child overcome his diffidence and boost his self-esteem.

8. Follow the leader: When you have family outings and parties, make your child responsible for planning and organising the events. Assign her the role of leader and ensure that everyone takes instructions from her. This will be a big boost to her morale. Of course, you will need to guide her constantly during the initial phase until she is able to manage on her own.

Top 10 Confidence-Building Exercises For Kids

9. Mirror talk: Another good activity can be encouraging your child to talk aloud facing the mirror about his fears, aspirations, etc. This can prove to be a therapeutic exercise. This activity will also provide the scope for positive self-talk. Your child can give himself pep talks focussing on the ‘can do’ attitude. Another interesting off-shoot of this activity can be posing questions such as, ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Tell me who’s the smartest of all?’ Your child can mimic the mirror with the reply, ‘You, of course.’ The questions can vary with the ‘smartest’ being replaced with other qualities and traits.

Top 10 Confidence-Building Exercises For Kids

10. Climb the ladder: Set up a mini ladder or paste the picture of a ladder on chart paper and hang it on the wall. Place your child’s photograph on the bottom-most rung of the ladder. Discuss with your child as to how to overcome her weaknesses. Together, chart out steps to surmount the challenges she faces. Monitor your child’s progress on a daily basis and as she succeeds in each step, place her photograph on the next rung of the ladder. Continue this until you reach the top. Once done, take up the next challenge or issue and repeat the exercise. Visualising her progress and climb will surely do a world of good to your child’s self-confidence.

Now, let us look at some factors that can affect your child's self-confidence.

Some factors that influence self-confidence

  • Parental attitude towards success and failure
  • Comparisons with peers and siblings
  • Negative comments about appearance, efforts and so on
  • Repeated failure

An understanding of these factors will help you to work towards building your child's self-confidence.

Signs of high self-confidence

Here are some signs to look out for in your child to identify his high level of self-confidence:

  • Exhibits good social skills
  • Shows willingness to try out new tasks
  • Adapts to change easily
  • Learns from mistakes
  • Is proud of achievements
  • Is resilient
  • Acts independently

Signs of low self-confidence

The following signs will help you to figure out whether your child's self-confidence level is low, so that you can empathise with her and help build her confidence.

  • Is withdrawn and reserved; doesn't mingle freely with peers
  • Gives up easily when faced with failure
  • Loses interest in academics and extra-curricular activities
  • Shows feelings of frustration and anger
  • Feels unloved and rejected
  • Is unwilling to take on new responsibilities
  • Makes negative self-critical statements

By building your child's self-confidence you will enable her to value herself, believe in herself and strive towards success. For, as Helen Keller said, "Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."

About the author:

Written by Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj, PhD (Eng & Edu) on 6 October 2017; updated on 28 October 2020

The author is an educationist, language specialist and writer. In a career spanning over two decades, she has taught from preschool to B-School and trained teachers, master trainers and software professionals. She is also a former member of curriculum and syllabus development committees (Govt of Tamil Nadu). Her passion for the written word matches her enthusiasm for entertaining little kids by breaking out into nursery rhymes.

Looking for fun ways to keep your preschooler engaged at home during the pandemic? Check out Little Learners at Home, a home learning programme specifically designed for 3 to 5 year olds by our team of experts.

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