Building Self-Confidence Through Praise And Encouragement

Want to know how to boost your little one’s self-confidence through praise and encouragement? Read on to know more.

By Geethapriya Manoharan

Building Self-Confidence Through Praise And Encouragement

Want to know how to boost your little one’s self-confidence through praise and encouragement? Read on to know more.

Self-confidence is an indispensable trait to inculcate in a child. Children with confidence feel more capable and self-sufficient, and better motivated. Self-confident children:

  1. Accept themselves for who they are
  2. Feel competent
  3. Are good problem-solvers
  4. Enjoy doing tasks assigned to them
  5. Like to learn from their mistakes and put what they’ve learnt to practice
  6. Bounce back from disappointments and failures and think of it as an opportunity to learn

By trying to instil a sense of self-confidence from an early age, parents can raise children who say, “I Can Handle It!”

How to raise children who are self-confident

Your child looks up to you for praise and encouragement whenever she does something that makes her feel proud. Showering your child with the ’right amount’ of praise and encouragement can go a long way in boosting her confidence.

But, why just the ‘right amount’ of praise and encouragement?

Psychologists state that when we praise our children more than necessary, it affects their self-confidence.

Let’s read on to understand a little more about how praise affects children.

Effort-based praise Vs Personal praise

A child should be praised for the effort he invests in doing something. When you praise your child for his efforts, it makes him feel good about himself. Even if your child wasn’t successful but had put in a lot of effort, praise his effort so that he keeps trying. This will boost his self-confidence.

But, when you praise your child by labelling his qualities, for example, “You are very smart” or “You are the most intelligent person,” it increases the pressure on him to live up to your expectations. This would make him reluctant to try anything new as he may become apprehensive of failing and, thus, losing the ‘smart’ tag. This attitude would affect his self-confidence. So, parents shouldn’t praise their child for his qualities.

Here’s another example to help you understand how praise can adversely affect a child –

Meena bought her 5-year-old daughter Vidya a pretty blue dress. She couldn’t stop gushing at how pretty Vidya looked in the dress. She kept saying, “I love you my little angel. You look so pretty in this dress.” Meena also kept telling everyone how pretty her daughter looked in the blue dress.

What happened next?

On every occasion, Vidya only wanted to wear the ‘blue’ dress in which she looked pretty. Vidya’s insistence on wearing the blue dress started making Meena feel annoyed and frustrated. But, whenever Meena tried to prevent Vidya from wearing the blue dress and make her wear something else, Vidya would start crying. It was with great difficulty that Meena could manage to stop herself from speaking harshly to her daughter and making her wear other dresses.

One day, Meena started contemplating about the situation. After some deliberation, she sat down with Vidya to have a conversation.

Meena: Honey, I understand that you like to wear the blue dress.

Vidya: (mumbles something)

Meena: Baby, look at me. Tell me what makes you feel so upset? (Vidya starts crying. Meena hugs Vidya, which calms her down.)

Vidya: I look pretty only in the blue dress.

Meena: It’s not so. You look pretty in every dress you wear.

Vidya: No. Mummy. I look ‘pretty’ ONLY in the blue dress.

Meena: Sweetheart, you look pretty in all the dresses that we have bought for you.

Vidya: (looking at Meena with a sad and confused expression) But, Mummy you are the one who said that I look ‘pretty’ in the blue dress.

Meena: I did. But, that doesn’t mean that you don’t look pretty in other outfits. You look lovely in all the other dresses too. ‘YOU’ are the one who is pretty, the dress just adds to your beauty.

Vidya: Really? (Vidya hugs Meena and laughs. Meena laughs too.)

Now, let’s try and understand what went wrong after Meena praised her daughter when she saw her wearing the new blue dress.

  1. After Meena saw Vidya wearing the new dress, she kept praising her daughter. This made Vidya think that she looked pretty ONLY in that particular dress.
  2. Meena’s praise made Vidya become self-conscious about her looks. Therefore, she was averse to wearing anything other than the blue dress in which she looked pretty and beautiful.

The conversation between Meena and Vidya tells us how overpraising a child can affect her self-confidence.

Here are some situations to highlight the difference between personal praise and effort-based praise:

Building Self-Confidence Through Praise And Encouragement

As parents, let us strive to build our children’s confidence by offering them appropriate praise and appreciation.

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