top of page



We’ve all watched that 4-year-old prima ballerina, twirling and leaping with reckless abandon- - so full of confidence - just knowing that they are the best. Think of that same kid at 7… or 12…or older.

What happened to their confidence?

We want, more than anything else, the best for our kids.

We want them to be healthy, happy, successful.

We want them to be the kid who walks into a room and owns it …the center of adoring attention.

We also see those who shrink in. They sit on the sidelines – uncomfortable and alone. Wishing they could fit in.

Confident kids know their own strengths and weaknesses. Rather than being threatened, they see group situations as sources of opportunity. Lori K. Evans, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at the NYU Child Study Center in New York City, asserts that a confident child will be less vulnerable to emotional problems, attempting suicide, or harming himself.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Teach Good Manners

Especially when it comes to meeting and speaking with people. It might seem dated and unnecessary, but knowing how to properly address a person, shake hands, and look someone in the eyes when speaking or being spoken to will put your child ahead of the curve.

These actions are a kick start to building self-confidence and

are the mark of a leader. Eye contact, especially, lays the foundation and is the basis of self-confidence in children (and adults). "Having good manners helps you feel good about yourself because you know how to treat others with respect and carry yourself in the world," says etiquette expert Lisa Richey. "It helps a child to develop the qualities of a leader. It not only makes a child feel confident but provides a visual clue to all of the other kids that he is confident.”

Your child will take her cues from you. When speaking to her, put aside your Smart Phone and give your daughter your undivided attention. Being fully present is key to good manners.

Kids are watching and listening to you. Have them see you simply say "Thank you" and “You’re Welcome” or shake hands when you meet someone. You are modeling how to treat people with courtesy and respect, and instilling in them the importance of those qualities. Each time you do so is a reinforcement of those qualities.

It might be a small start -- teaching kids to be independent thinkers and respectful of others -- but one that can hopefully have a positive impact on all of us (think: less likely to bully, or be bullied, and more likely to befriend those who are bullied).

2. Give Genuine Compliments

It's time to drop meaningless flattery. Kids don't buy it. Everything that they do is not wonderful. Get specific with your praise.

To reinforce confidence, give genuine compliments. Don’t tell your son he’s a great basketball player if he’s not. You can say that you admire his persistence and how hard he works. You can tell him that you see improvement. You can add that you’re proud he always gives it his best. But telling him he’s great when he knows he’s not is a breach of trust.

Genuine compliments share your values and help them to trust themselves and the world around.

3. Help Them Build Resilience

Understandably, you want to protect them; it’s only natural, but it's not healthy to not allow them to solve their problems. The opposite is actually true. Constantly running to the rescue could send the message to your child that he or she is not capable or not competent. Children learn best when allowed to fix their own mistakes. Part of building confidence is developing a coping mechanism and learning how to deal with all types of situations. "Don't jump to problem-solving, just listen," says Dr. Evans. And, yes, they will make less than stellar choices. When this happens, when they make a choice that doesn’t help the situation, review the outcome with them and figure out where it went wrong and why. This will build independence and confidence in their decision-making.

Kids need your unconditional love; they need to hear that they are loved no matter what.

Start small. Allow your child to help with lunch, or dinner, or snack. Let him/her choose their own outfits (I suggest doing this the night before - no one needs to add stress to the morning routine). And go with the choice - even if it’s not your aesthetic. Two different colored socks? A flouncy dressy skirt and a hoodie sweatshirt? A small price to pay for self-assurance.

4. Give Them Set Chores

"When a child accomplishes something he or she feels confident," says Dr. Ludwig. Point out that the chore plays on his/her strengths. My daughter sets the table because she has an eye for the small details that makes everyday dinners look special. I don’t.

What kind of chores? All children should make their beds (to the best of their abilities). Other chores could be to set or clear the table. Vacuum. Put groceries away. Each age and stage should have an appropriate chore. It allows your child to be a contributing member of the family.

5. Set Kids up to Succeed

Try not to push your kid into activities you have selected because you think that’s what they’re “supposed” to do. It can leave them with feelings of inadequacy. Instead, play to your child’s innate abilities. When you play to a child's natural talents, her hard work and success fosters confidence. "When a child excels in an activity outside school he will go back to school with the confidence to know it's okay if he doesn't fit into the school blueprint of success," says Richey.

That’s not to say you should never encourage them to try something new; or that in order to participate they have to excel or not become a part of it. If your child loves to play basketball - but doesn’t excel – by all means, join the team and play for the joy of playing! Instill in him the love of the game, playing to the best of his ability. Allow them not to be perfect, or have the pressure of being “the best” at everything.

Not a member of the Encourage Greatness private Facebook community?

Click here to join. We'd love to have you!


Whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you:

1. Not a member of the Encourage Greatness private Facebook community?

Click here to join. We'd love to have you!

2. Schedule a BREAKTHROUGH SESSION today. We'll look at your goals, the challenges you're facing, opportunities you might be missing. We'll also uncover hidden problems that may be sabotaging your desired results. You'll leave the session feeling renewed, re-energized, and inspired to get results faster and easier than you thought possible. And you'll have a plan of action to do just that.

3. Get coaching, accountability, and support as you go through the ages and stages of parenting. Click here to join the Encourage-Greatness Click here to join the Encourage-Greatness 6-month program.

4. Get mentored by me. Every year, I have a limited number of spots for support and mentorship on a private, VIP day. It all starts with a phone call. Click here to start the process and see if we're a fit.

"Action is the foundational key to all success." Picasso

"If you are feeling overwhelmed and need some support in the parenting department, Mary Kerwin will help guide you. She’s an educator with decades of experience based in NYC but she has online offerings too. Check it out. She’s pretty awesome." .~Claudia L., mom of 3 and entrepreneur

37 views0 comments
bottom of page