With 20 years of global experience, one thing I’ve found similar around the world is that kids need to learn how to believe in themselves to succeed. It doesn’t matter if they live at the Base of the Himalayas (I’ve lived there!) or Bronx, New York (lived near there, too!), the process of cultivating a deeper sense of confidence happens in the same way wherever you are. So much of my work with children is helping them believe more fully in themselves, and guiding them to become happier no matter what.
Recently, I worked with an eight-year-old girl, Ava, who is highly creative and intelligent but struggles with self-confidence. I asked her, “Would you like to paint today?” and she replied, “I’m not sure if I can do it.” Of course, this is a clear sign that she still needs help building her sense of outer to inner confidence.
So how do we spark self-confidence at a deeper level in children? In my book, Growing Happy Kids: How to Foster Inner Confidence, Success and Happiness, I present a model called “The Five Building Blocks of Confidence” that explains how any adult can foster a stronger type of confidence in their children. But here, I want to emphasize that children begin looking outside of themselves for validation (grades, acknowledgement from parents, trophies), and the process of building a deeper sense of self-confidence involves helping them look inward.
In other words, to teach inner confidence we need to teach children (on a consistent basis) that within them is a power, capability, and greatness to overcome any obstacles. Whether you call this power from within God, Spirit, Shiva, the Buddha Seed, or Jehovah doesn’t matter. What matters is that your kids understand there is an infinite intelligence in and around their lives that can help them through life.
I explained this idea to Ava, and she immediately brightened up. “You mean I have God within me?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied. “There is a power in you that can help you succeed no matter what is happening in the outer world.” Interestingly enough, she was then willing to try her hand at painting.
With a bit of guidance, any child can learn how to become more confident. These 5 simple tips will help you get the process started.
1. Give them a daily dose of spiritual confidence
Each day we need to reinforce the belief that our children are capable of greatness. This may be an affirmation, song, prayer, meditation, or something unique to your family or culture – the point is it needs to be done consistently, not sporadically, for best results.
2. Get Them Moving
Self-confidence starts with a healthy body and brain; when a child exercises regularly, eats healthy, stays hydrated, and gets a good night’s sleep, their brain creates positive pathways not just for physical, but for emotional health, too. So make sure your kids are moving, and, more importantly, that they get their exercise in while doing something they love – let them pick the activity!
3. Be Inspired Together
Whether it’s taking a trip to see magnificent waterfalls, flying a new kite on the beach, or learning to hula-hoop, do something with your child that lights him or her up. They’ll feel happier and stronger as they continue to build their repertoire of skills (hiking, kite-flying, hula-hooping) and increase their growing sense of self-worth.
4. Create an Uplifting Space
Decorate your child’s room so it features happy photos of them, displays their awards and goals, and surrounds them with their favorite things. By making the space feel comforting to your child, they’ll realize this world is supporting them, their dreams can come true, and everyone wants to see them succeed.
5. Empower them
Once children realize how powerful they are, the path to inner confidence becomes easier and more possible. My young neighbor Lizzie set up a lemonade stand and gave all of her earnings ($55) to the local humane society, which was caring for 19 bunny rabbits. You could see the self-confidence pouring out of her when she dropped off the money and talked about how happy she was that she could help. If you encourage your kids to help others (from setting up lemonade stands to donating old toys), they’ll realize that they’re capable of promoting change – for the better.