Ministry of Education, Guyana

Self Confidence: Helping Your Five Year Old Develop Independence and Self Confidence

From taking their first steps to learning how to read, children gain self-confidence as they master new skills. This gives them the courage to continue to explore and expand their abilities. Five-year-olds sometimes toggle between wanting to do things by themselves and having parents do tasks for them that they find difficult. As you encourage their independence, you may also need to help them talk through their frustrations and fears. Encourage their interest in learning new skills. They will develop confidence as they practice and recognize their progress.

Help your child build self-confidence with these strategies:

Zoom In
Kids may encounter intense feelings of self-doubt when they are overwhelmed by a task or situation. For example, instead of remembering that they already know how to dribble when joining a basketball team, a child might take in the whole scene ― the hoop, the other kids, the fast movement, the size of the court ― and become lost in self-doubt. Teach your child to "zoom in" on both strengths and challenges. Instead of looking through the wide-angle lens and assuming they can't do something, they can zoom in on what they can do and what they cannot yet do ― and make a plan for improving specific skills. (For example: “I know how to dribble a ball, so that will help me play," "I don't know how to do a layup yet, but I can ask my coach for help with that.")

Practice, Practice, Practice
In order for children to develop resiliency to forge on through the ups and down that go hand in hand with all learning, they will need oodles of practice time. As parents, we need to step out of the way and allow our children to make mistakes and encourage them to keep trying.

Let Your Child Borrow Your Confidence
Kids look to parents to see, "Should I be scared here?" Psychologists call this "social referencing." For instance, when children see a dog for the first time, they'll look up to mom or dad to assess whether or not the dog is dangerous. If their parent looks relaxed, it's easier for the child to approach the dog. When kids are scared, our instinct might be to help them escape — or to avoid scary situations entirely. But that tells them, "This is too hard for you to handle!" Instead, provide encouragement. Tell your child, "It's hard, but I know you can do it." Show your faith in your child's ability to cope.


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