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Self-confidence is an essential foundation for health, happiness, success, and achievement. But between the natural human tendency to compare ourselves with others and to focus on the negative, building that foundation isn’t easy.
The sooner we make a conscious effort to boost children’s confidence—and the more consistently we do so—the more confident our children will become. Here are nine fun, simple activities to get you started.
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1. Bathroom Mirror Speech Bubbles
You’ll Need: Bathroom mirror, our free printable, scissors, adhesive
Step 1: On colorful paper, write or type messages to inspire and encourage your children or students.
Step 2: Cut the messages out in the shape of speech or thought bubbles and stick them around a mirror.
The mirror is a great location for confidence-boosting messages because children sometimes experience negative or self-defeating thoughts when looking at their reflections.
2. Shred It!
You’ll Need: A mini paper shredder or “hand shredder,” paper, markers/writing utensils
For both children and adults, negative self-talk can be a major confidence killer.
Step 1: Ask your children or students to list some of the worries, unhelpful thoughts, or fears that sometimes hold them back. You can even jot down some of your own as an example.
Step 2: Have children shred their confidence-defeating thoughts using paper shredder!
Through this empowering activity, children acknowledge their negative thoughts, then receive a visual reminder that these thoughts are not helpful, true, or in charge.
Step 3: With older children, take the activity a step further. Ask them to write down positive thoughts to replace the negative thoughts they shredded.
For instance, “I’m not good at math,” can become, “I can improve my math skills with more practice.”
Reframe a fear-based statement like, “Nobody likes me,” with a self-affirming statement like, “I like ME and it’s all that matters.”
3. Confidence Bananas
You’ll Need: Banana(s), marker
Combine a healthy snack with healthy messages by writing words of encouragement on bananas. Write phrases like, “You make a difference!” or, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again!” Browse our list of 45 Growth Mindset Mantras for more inspiring ideas.
Slip these “confidence bananas” into your child’s lunchbox for a helpful dose of positivity at lunchtime. Children can also write messages to themselves and to friends or family members.
If your child doesn’t like bananas, no problem. Achieve the same effect with classic lunchbox notes (on paper) or encouraging messages on the fridge, in backpacks, etc. Check out these fun and encouraging notes available in our Resilience Kit.
4. Wash It Away
You’ll Need: A bath bomb, marker, bathtub or sink
Similar to the “Shred It” activity and perfect for home use, consider helping your child “wash away” negative thoughts using a bath bomb.
Step 1: Write a self-defeating thought or two on a bath bomb.
Step 2: Have your child throw it into the tub and watch it dissolve.
Step 3: Discuss the idea that feelings and frustration are fleeting. When we dwell on negative beliefs about ourselves, we bring ourselves down and limit our ability to try new things, face obstacles, and persevere.
At the root of most negative self-talk is fear. For instance, if your child’s negative self-belief is, “I’m dumb,” perhaps she is afraid of performing poorly at school or being teased for not understanding the material.
Talk about such fears, help your child come up with strategies and a plan, and/or find a way to reframe your child’s negative self-talk into something more positive.
5. Take What You Need Board
You’ll Need: A bulletin board or display board, Post-It notes, marker/writing utensil
Step 1: Cover a bulletin board in your school hallway, classroom, or home with Post-It notes featuring encouraging messages.
Step 2: Label the board, “Take What You Need” and allow children to borrow positivity and encouragement as needed. Children can also contribute helpful messages of their own to the board.
Alternatively, create flyers with tear-off tabs featuring words of encouragement. Include a message like, “Take what you need, then feel free to pass it on!"
Our Positivity & Connection Kit contains a Positive Daily Intentions printable that contains encouraging messages that children can take and use throughout their day.
6. “What I Love About You” Poster
You’ll Need: Poster board, markers
For children, hearing what their parents, teachers, or other important adults love about them positively impacts their confidence more than you might realize. In fact, research shows that just ONE stable, committed relationship with a supportive adult is a key ingredient in developing the confidence and resilience to overcome adversity.
Step 1: On a sheet of poster board write, “What I Love About You”.
Step 2: List all of the qualities you love about your child or student.
If you’re a teacher, you may also consider getting a jar or shoebox for each student. Place slips of paper in the container that list what you love about each child.
This activity will show children that they belong and are seen and appreciated by the adults in their life, creating a significant positive influence on their self-esteem.
7. “My Wins”
You’ll Need: Paper/notebook, markers or pens
Give the child a notebook or sheet of paper, as well as writing utensils. Ask them to write down their “wins” so far in life. What have they accomplished? What have they overcome? When have they persevered and made an improvement or reached a goal?
Leave space to write daily or weekly “wins” and continue celebrating accomplishments, even if they are seemingly small. It’s easy to get caught up in struggles or perceived failures. It’s important to remember all the “wins” too.
In addition, you can help children see how a perceived failure was actually a win, further improving their self-esteem. For instance, if your child says, “I made a huge mistake this week,” ask, “What did you learn?”
Once your child articulates what they learned from the experience, say, “Wow, that sounds like a win to me!” Have your child write, “I learned __________,” in their list of daily or weekly wins.
The Famous Failures Kit highlights famous people from around the world who have failed and struggled on their way to success.
8. Encouraging Text Messages
You’ll Need: Cell phones
For teens, another idea is to send encouraging text messages. You can send positive messages each morning, or when you know your teen is feeling stressed--like before a major test or a big game. For more ideas to boost teen’s self-esteem, check out helpful tips here.
Teenagers can also save favorite words of inspiration as the “wallpaper” or background on their cell phones. Any time they pick up their phone, they’ll receive a positive reminder.
Teens can find other positive quotes and encouraging content and activities in the Big Life Journal for Tweens/Teens. This science-based journal helps tweens and teens develop a resilient, growth mindset so they can grow into confident, happy adults.
9. Bedroom Door Decor
You’ll Need: Paper, markers or computer with printer, scissors, adhesive
Decorate your child’s bedroom door with hearts featuring confidence-building words. Depending on your child, you may want to use other shapes that reflect their interests. Include growth mindset messages, qualities you love about your child and other words of encouragement.
Each time your child enters or leaves her bedroom, she’ll remember that she’s loved, accepted, and supported. Your thoughtful messages are sure to put a smile on her face and some extra confidence in her step!
For even more ways to boost your child’s confidence, check out our article 25 Things You Can Do Right Now to Boost a Child’s Confidence. For teenagers, read 15 Tips to Build Self-Esteem and Confidence in Teens.