Often used interchangeably, self-confidence and self-esteem actually have very different meanings but both are important for happy children!
Self-confidence is developed through having repeatedly positive experiences in a certain aspect of life, for example success at school or during sports games. The self-confidence of a child rises and falls depending on what situation they are in – if they have had positive experiences in this situation before they will have an optimistic outlook, whereas if they have had negative experiences or it is a new experience, they will typically have very little confidence in themselves.
In comparison, self-esteem is not built on wins and losses, and is not dependant on what activity a child is doing at the time. Self-esteem is a child’s own sense of value and belonging in the world. It is reliant on family connections, social interactions and personal contributions.
Where a child has positive connections and interactions with important role models in their lives, they will develop a healthy self-esteem. They will feel that their connection is valued and that their contribution to the interaction is worthwhile and meaningful. These positive exchanges all add up to help children realise their value and positive qualities – ultimately building their self-esteem. If children are bombarded with many negative interactions such as bullying, criticism and comparison, it can result in a low self-esteem.
Where self-confidence says “I haven’t done this before, I might not be good at it”, self-esteem says “I’m going to try something new”. Where self-confidence says “I was really good at this last time, I’m going to be good at it this time”, a high self-esteem says “I’m going to try my best, and I’m proud of that.” Where self-confidence says “I have to be good at this again, I’m not good at anything else”, a high self-esteem says “I can enjoy this whether or not I am good at it.”
· Be mindful of the language we use when children are trying new things, try saying “get out there and try your best!” instead of “don’t worry, you’re going to be great!”. This small change can have a huge impact on a child’s mindset.
· Encourage children to reflect on their activities and talk about how they felt as they faced the situation – help them to talk about even their failures in a positive way! Eagerly listening to their answers will create those positive and valued interactions!
· Inspire children to compliment and congratulate other children on their abilities or qualities – this helps them to see the power of their words and see the value of their contributions.
Long Term Impacts
Children who develop a healthy self-esteem carry this with them all through their lives. While self-esteem can fluctuate, it is not as situational as self-confidence, meaning that as they grow up and are faced with new challenges, children can hold onto their self-esteem knowing that their value does not diminish if they aren’t good at something or if they make a mistake.
Limited Edition Dance
At Limited Edition Dance, we encourage students to see past being a “good” dancer and instead focus on their courage to try new moves, express their individuality and their connections with their classmates and teachers. Although dancing builds experience based self-confidence, LED builds the self-esteem of all our students!