Expert Tips On Raising Confident Boys And Girls

While it might be thought of as a teenage preoccupation, building confidence in a child begins as early as the infant stage and is an ongoing process throughout childhood and adolescence.

“As parents, we play an important part in building our children’s self-esteem which allows them to meet the challenges of each developmental stage,” says Dr. Jay Lovenheim, D.O., F.A.A.P., a pediatrician at Lovenheim Pediatrics in West Orange New Jersey. “Confidence building begins as your child transitions from infant to toddler.”


Setting limits and defining boundaries are important for providing your child with structure. 

“Things like allowing your child to self soothe themselves back to sleep, helping to reassure a young child that despite being alone they will be okay, and encouraging your child to do things for themselves help them master important skills,” says Dr. Lovenheim.

When you show your child affection, your child will learn how to express their feelings with other people and situations.

“Showing affection to your children has a considerable influence on what they think of themselves,” says Dr. Lovenheim. “Talk to your children, hear what they have to say, and allow them to express their opinions in a way that shows them that they matter. Often, one parent is unable to be with their child daily. I recommend calling them or emailing them regularly. Taking advantage of modern technology allows us to stay in touch in diverse ways.”

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Showing your child unconditional love and support. 

“Even while setting limits and enforcing rules, it is important to reassure your child that you love them,” says Dr. Lovenheim. “Withholding love from them as a punishment only makes them feel bad about themselves. Reinforce that love is not dependent on good behavior. Try not to use phrases like ‘bad boy/girl.’  Instead stress the fact that the behavior itself was bad. Explain what he or she did wrong and then enforce the consequences.”

Playing together and have fun. 

“When you play and interact with your child, you show them that you enjoy spending time with them and that you value their presence,” says Dr. Lovenheim. “Healthy play has shown an ability to decrease a child’s risk of depression and anxiety. Healthy play will help your child develop a confidence in their ability to form solid social bonds and see themselves as an interesting and entertaining person.”

Encouraging independence in your child. 

“By the time your child reaches middle school they start to spend time alone at home, walk to school and other places themselves, and help care for younger siblings,” says Dr. Lovenheim. “Allow your children to grow more independent. Allow them to troubleshoot issues on their own. Things like communicating with their teachers, organizing their own homework assignments, and preparing their own sports/hobbies’ uniforms and supplies gives your child a sense of responsibility and competence to go along with a growing self-esteem.”