How to build a 10 year-old's confidence

When a child reaches 10 years of age, he or she will have a series of new challenges in life to start coming to terms with. Some 10 year olds will start developing early signs of puberty, social situations at school and bullying might start to create problems and educational demands will just keep getting tougher. It’s not difficult for a 10 year old to begin losing confidence in his or her abilities and it’s very common for children of this age to avoid branching out into new experiences for fear of not “doing it right.” The good news is that parents, teachers and other supportive adults can do a number of things to help build the confidence of a 10 year old in their care.

Children learn by example

Children hear and see everything, even when it appears that they aren’t paying attention. A child’s brain is little a sponge, absorbing much more information than that of an adult’s, and they learn by imitating what they see and hear around them. When parents display a lack of confidence over a long period of time, it is liable to influence their young children to adopt a similar sense of self-doubt. When parents exhibit the ability to launch into new projects and try new things, children follow suit. Even if you do have your doubts and worries about your own abilities to achieve, try not to voice those concerns too often around your children.

Cotton wool can be stifling

Parents and other supportive adults can run the risk of looking after their children so much that they stifle their ability at a young age to gain confidence in their own abilities. When we see young children running fearlessly into the sea, our natural urges as carers is to shout out, “Be careful!” It’s important to alert children to possible dangers so that they can enjoy everything life has to offer without putting themselves and others at risk, but sometimes children become more confident and more able when they are given a freer reign from which to enjoy life. Sometimes children need to fall to realise that, even though they fall and it hurts they can recover and learn how not to fall down the second time around. Be alert to your child’s safety without stifling their opportunity to explore and grow in confidence as a result.

Decision-making is positive

Children must learn to make their own decisions and they must sense from the adults around them that the decisions they make are valid. It might be that the parent doesn’t like the taste of almond ice-cream, but if the child wants to try it they should be allowed to do so without feeling the immediate influence from their parent to stick with safe and reliable chocolate ice-cream. In the same way, when a child decides to wear a pink t-shirt and yellow leggings on non-uniform day, parents should be willing to let this creativity fly. It might not be something that you would dress your child in, or something that you would wear, but that doesn’t mean that the choice is any less valid. Taking choice and decision-making rights away from your child because as the adult “you know best” is one of the best ways to crush your 10 year old’s confidence in a heartbeat.

Praise can be debilitating

Praise is great. Everyone likes to be told they did something well. However, too much praise can make a child very needy. When a 10 year old is praised for every single thing that he or she does, it can have a really negative effect on his or her confidence. Children who are overly praised can develop a need for approval from others in order to feel a sense of achievement. In order to truly believe that they have excelled in any task laid out before them, they require someone else to give them a “pat on the back” and when this doesn’t happen, their achievements lose value. Keep praise to a minimum, offer it when it is truly deserving and make sure that it doesn’t become a simple natural reaction to offer it on your part.

Let them work it out

A great confidence building exercise for children is to leave them to find their own solution to a problem so that when everything slots into place they will be able to attribute their success entirely to their own self-ingenuity. The more problems a child is left to solve without adult help (within reason, of course) the more his or her confidence will grow. As each problem occurs, they will become less and less daunting.

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About the Author

Tracey Chandler specializes in travel articles and features for female-interest publications online. She reviews Latin American cinema, creates press releases for an online marketing company and manages her own blog "The Jolly English Pirate." She holds a B.A. in performing arts at Middlesex University.