Signs of Self-Confidence in the First Five Years

Celebrate the growing independence of your child! Here are signs of self-confidence in the first five years:

Ages 0–1: From the start, babies need a safe, secure “home base” from which they can explore the world. Self-confidence grows through trust — knowing an adult cares and is there for them; receiving attention, affection and love; being offered help when needed; and seeing parents modeling patience and persistence.

Signs of Self-Confidence, Ages 0–1:

  • Tries new things, such as crawling away and returning
  • Smiles, responds to talking and holds a “conversation” back and forth
  • Responds to comforting when sad or frustrated

Ages 1–3: Toddlers begin to venture out more as they start to walk and run. Supporting your child in taking his or her “first steps,” in everything from walking to interacting with other children and playing games, can help build self-esteem. Modeling positive self-confidence, allowing children some choices and providing reassurance when trying new things can help.

Signs of Self-Confidence, Ages 1–3:

  • Makes decisions/has opinions (the fact that it may involve the word “no” is actually a sign of feeling safe!)
  • Shows pleasure/pride when praised for doing something; takes initiative
  • With encouragement, attempts tasks again and again

Ages 4–5: Preschoolers are more aware of other people and begin to compare themselves to their peers. Helping to build self-confidence is a balance between risk and safety, allowing independence to grow but providing rules and guidance when needed. To help build your child’s self-esteem, provide encouragement without over-praising (which kids stop hearing), notice improvement and emphasize strengths, effort and progress along with the products of their accomplishment.

Signs of Self-Confidence, Ages 4–5:

  • Will try new things with a positive attitude
  • Can accept that something isn’t perfect the first time and is willing to persist or try again
  • Can identify activities they are good at
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