Helping children and young people build their confidence

Confidence can be really important for children in every aspect of their lives, from making friends, to joining in with sports and their work at school.

Children and young people do not always have confidence.
Children and young people do not always have confidence.

But we talk to a lot of children and young people who don’t have confidence in themselves and their abilities, and can feel quite upset and worried because they lack self-esteem and can’t think of ways to improve this.

One young girl told Childline: “At parents’ evening I got great comments, but every single teacher said I need to be more confident.

“A few people understand that I am shy, but most have just expected me to change. I don't really like to contribute, because often my ideas are very unusual and I always worry people will judge me.

“I also speak quietly and the quieter I am, the more I am asked to repeat, the more nervous I feel.”

It can be really difficult for young people to know what to do to build confidence when they feel shy or unsure of themselves, and for parents, carers and teachers it can be difficult to know what to do to help.

At Childline, we recommend helping children and young people to change their focus. A lot of the time we can all focus a little too much on what has gone wrong, rather than the things that go well.

By looking at the positives and taking note of them we can all feel a little more positive about ourselves.

The same goes for when we get feedback – whether it’s from a friend, teacher or colleague we can sometimes focus too much on the criticisms but overlook our achievements, which can make us doubt ourselves more.

We also advise young people to try new and different things every day – just in small steps, or making little changes, such as changing hair styles or trying a new hobby. This can help us move out of our comfort zones a little at a time and help us discover new things about ourselves, as well as offering the sense of a fresh start.

Music is also a great tool to help children and young people boost their confidence. Sometimes when they start to doubt themselves, listening to their favourite song, band or artist can help them feel much better.

For free confidential advice and support about any worries, children and young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or