Most foster children have faced difficult challenges in their lives, which may have included instability, separation from their parents, and other traumas. Moving homes and leaving families can create a lot of uncertainty and inhibit a child’s sense of belonging and self-worth.
That’s why it’s so important for carers to help their foster children rediscover their inner confidence. Having confidence helps build the resilience to face any challenges ahead – and can greatly improve a child’s long-term prospects such as education and employment.
Confidence is also key in social situations, and increases a child’s ability to adapt, even when things don’t go the way they want.
So, how can you help your foster child build their confidence?
How to build confidence in children and young people:
Make time for play
Play is a safe way for children to try out new things and build new skills, which will in turn help build confidence. They get to practice decision-making, work cooperatively with others, and discover their inner strengths. Open-ended and creative play, in which children aren’t pressured to achieve any sort of final outcome, is particularly important for building confidence and self-esteem.
Working through a situation or experience through play – like playing dentist or doctor – can help a child feel more comfortable facing the real-life experience. There are also some great toys that promote emotional development in children.
Give chores and help set goals
Show your foster child that what they do is valuable and makes a positive contribution to the family by giving them household chores.
Work with your child to set goals, from schoolwork to behavioural achievements – and celebrate when they complete them. Being able to mark their accomplishments can help a child build confidence in their abilities.
Listen when your child speaks, and talk to them about issues that are important to them and to your family. Show your foster child they’re important by how you react to their ideas and their actions, and encourage them to think critically and independently. These are valuable skills for building confidence, self-assuredness, and resilience.
Encourage trying new things
Encourage your foster child to try new things, but make it safe for them to fail – confidence isn’t about being good at something, it’s about having the resilience not to let failure stop you from trying. While so much of a child’s world is about measuring achievement – such as grades – it’s important for them to also experience learning from failure without feeling like a failure.
Give lots of the right kind of encouragement and praise
Encouragement and praise are great, but pay attention to the words you use. Try to frame success in terms of effort and perseverance, rather than the final outcome.
If your child studies hard for a test, praise them for their effort no matter what grade they get. Build confidence by encouraging the behaviours that lead to success rather than innate ability.
Help them discover their passions
Encourage confidence building activities for children to pursue. Make sure to show your own enthusiasm in the things they’re interested in – if your child shows a natural talent or passion for something, whether it be drawing, sports, or animals, encourage that interest as much as you can.
People naturally become better at things they enjoy because they do them more often. Encouraging your foster child to spend time on a passion will let them see how investing time and effort into an activity can really pay off.
Be confident in yourself, and share with your child how you overcome disappointments, mistakes, and other life challenges.
As parents and carers, we can sometimes try to shelter our children from the difficult life situations that we face. Sharing how you overcome these challenges with your foster child will give them a positive model for how to face the same kinds of difficulties in their lives.
Show them that they belong
For foster children, a feeling of belonging to a family and a community is a significant step towards building a sense of self-worth.
Show your foster child that they’re a valued member of the family by hanging their artwork and pictures of them around your home. Encourage them to get involved in community activities, and attend community events together to help build their feelings of belonging.
Are you ready to help a child in your community by providing a safe and happy foster home? Get in touch to chat with our friendly team about how you can be a part of the Compass Fostering community.