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What is confidence?

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Does your child ever ask what is confidence? It is often hard to explain and articulate exactly what confidence is but a simple explanation to tell them, is that confidence is a belief, a belief that you are capable. It is having the mindset of ‘I can’ when facing a challenge and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities, instead of saying ‘I can’t’ do this.

Although it’s equally important to explain to children what confidence is not:

· It is not a constant. Everyone has times when they don’t feel confident and that’s okay!

· Thinking you are better than others is arrogance, not confidence.

· Pretending you aren’t nervous or scared, burying your emotions.

· Getting it right every single time; being perfect.

How to Help Children Understand Confidence

There are a few strategies to use to help your children understand confidence.

Explain confidence in child-friendly language

Using child friendly language is important to help them grasp the true meaning. For example, say ‘Confidence is when you believe you can do something, even when it is hard’. It is also helpful to give examples, especially from their own life. For instance, my son joined a new football team recently and was really scared about fitting in and making new friends. However, he faced his fear and now absolutely loves being part of the new team!

Identify examples of confidence in books and movies

Book and movie examples are another way to help children learn an abstract concept. Check out our list of growth mindset movies for many films that demonstrate confidence. These films are all about pursuing your dreams, overcoming obstacles, and never giving up.

A few books to teach confidence include:


When you watch or read with children, ask them what lessons they learned about confidence. Remind them of their favourite book or movie whenever they need a confidence boost!

Model confidence

The best way for a child to understand and embody confidence is to spend time with adults who are confident. Focus on building your own confidence first, especially if you feel it needs a boost. It won’t happen overnight but be mindful of self-critical comments, avoid saying these in front of your children. Practice self-positive talk and surround yourself with positive people. Stop comparing yourself to others and treat everyone with kindness. Showing your children that you are taking care of your physical and mental health, facing your fears and reflecting on achievements and strengths are also great steps to building confidence. If you take these steps it will be much easier to help your children do the same. They will naturally model this behaviour.

Talk about how it feels to practise confidence

Talking about how it feels to practice confidence is really important. Ask them how they felt when they overcome mistakes, or when they showed bravery or persisted with something. Were they proud? Excited? Happy? Given them a confidence boost? Explain how the more we practice confidence, the more confident we will become.

How to Help Teens Build Confidence

Kids who seemed confident throughout childhood may struggle to maintain self-assurance during the teen years. For many, the teenage years are a time filled with self-doubt and insecurity.

  • Make it clear that your love for them in unconditional. It doesn’t depend on grades, behaviour or talent.

  • Don’t shield your teen from failure or panic when mistakes are made. Have open conversations with them about mistakes and failure

  • Focus on the positive outcomes as well as the journey to reaching them. Celebrate growth, perseverance, hard work, and effort.

  • Help teens gain new and missing skills and discover their passions and talents.

  • Remind teens that it doesn’t make them a bad person to move on from toxic friendships. Teach them about assertiveness and boundaries and that they aren’t a bad person for refusing to tolerate hurtful unkind behaviour from others.

  • Engage them in solving their problems, don’t just give them the solution. Listen and offer compassion and create a safe space for them to talk

  • Embrace a growth mindset in your home and model the confidence you would want your teen to have!

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