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Confidence and Self-esteem – are they the same thing?

As parents, we all want to raise confident children who thrive. 

Yet for decades, parenting experts had it all wrong as they believed that confidence and self-esteem could be boosted by praising children with words such as ‘You’re smart’ and ‘Well done’. 

Extensive research done in the last decade shows that this can be detrimental and even damaging to children. Other research shows that self-esteem comes from the ‘inside out’ rather than from the words we choose to use when communicating with our children.

So if praising children with ‘Good boy’ or ‘You’re so clever’ doesn’t work, does this mean that we cannot influence our children’s confidence and self-esteem at all? 

Well thankfully, the latest parenting research shows that there are effective ways to boost children’s self-esteem and confidence and maximise their chances of long-term success. 

Our objective is to equip you with tools that will help you develop your children’s confidence and self-esteem in order to make them wiser, more resilient and better able to cope with life’s challenges. 

Self-esteem and confidence are very closely related, and we need a healthy level of both in order to be able to cope with the challenges of life and all of its inevitable ‘ups and downs’. Self-esteem is our cognitive and, above all, emotional appraisal of our own worth. More than that, it is the matrix through which we think, feel, and act, and reflects and determines our relation to ourselves, to others, and to the world. 

While self-esteem is quite an abstract concept because it is essentially a reflection of our inner self, confidence is related to action and the way in which we relate or engage with the external world around us. 

Confidence can be learned and developed; we can become better at something through practice and repetition. But a high level of confidence alone might not be enough for a person to thrive and particularly to be happy because a person can be confident in one area of their lives and completely unconfident in another. 

Indeed, it is possible for a person to have high self-confidence and low self-esteem – and a lack of self-esteem can be particularly damaging. Because, although a person with a high level of confidence is more likely to seize opportunities and take on new challenges, even if the outcome is successful, if they lack self-esteem they may not feel good about – or reward themselves – for their achievements.

A high level of confidence and self-esteem are both key to being successful in all aspects of life, both personal and professional. They play a massive role in how we think and feel about ourselves and our behaviour tends to reflect those thoughts and feelings, whether they happen to be positive or negative. 

We start to develop confidence and self-esteem during infancy and this is greatly influenced by our parents’ interactions with us. For a child to develop a healthy level of both, they need to feel that they are loved by those who are closest to them and have a strong belief in their own capabilities. This allows children to approach new challenges with confidence and better equips them to be able to cope with hurt, disappointment and frustration.

As one would expect, research shows that children with high levels of confidence and self-esteem tend to be more independent and are more likely to perform well at school and grow to become happy and successful adults. They also tend to be ‘smarter’, not because they naturally have a higher IQ – which is only one measure of intelligence – than their peers, but because they will have developed their EQ (Emotional Intelligence), and they have assimilated that their intelligence and abilities can be developed and improved over time. 

Other research shows that approximately only 25% of achievement is due to innate intelligence or IQ, while the other 75% is attributed to psychological skills (such as persistence, grit, and resilience).  

While self-esteem levels do tend to fluctuate slightly at different stages of a child’s development, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs if your child is lacking confidence in his/her abilities. This could be as a result of some external influence that’s outside of your control, or it could be due to a negative experience that your child has had. 

Whatever the underlying cause may be, children with low self-esteem typically lack confidence in their abilities and have a tendency to ‘talk themselves out’ of trying new things. This is because they are often so afraid of making mistakes that they tend to avoid taking on new challenges for fear of not being ‘good enough’. 

Thankfully, there are steps that you can take at any age to develop your child’s mindset and to unleash their potential. This starts by becoming more aware of the impact your words and actions have upon the way your child feels about themselves, and that’s exactly what Happy Confident Me was designed to help you do. 

We’ll show you how to avoid some of the most common ‘parenting traps’ such as over-praising and motivating through rewards, and provide you with effective alternatives that will help you develop and nurture your child’s confidence and self-esteem and maximise their chances of growing to become happy, successful and resilient adults.

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