Emotions & Self-Awareness Helping Your Six-Year-Old Develop Independence and Self-Confidence

Teach kids to reframe their thoughts by countering negative self-talk with self-talk that is both positive and realistic.

Strategies for building self-confidence in your child:

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.")

Play Maker

Your child can build self-confidence, reading, and performance skills as she uses printables and props to perform the play "D.W. Gets Her Library Card."

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Reframe Negative Self-Talk

Some children this age can sabotage themselves with negative self-talk. This often sounds like, "I can't _______," or "I'm bad at _______." Teach kids to reframe their thoughts by countering negative self-talk with self-talk that is both positive and realistic. For example, instead of saying, "I'm terrible at math," they can reframe the challenge as, "I'm working really hard to understand my math homework." That's more realistic and valuable than having them say, "I will get 100 percent on my next math quiz," because it focuses on their effort, not on an outcome. 

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.

Never Do for a Child What a Child Can Do for Themselves

Identify what tasks your children are capable of handling and let them do these — such as getting themselves ready for school, keeping track of their belongings and tackling challenging academic tasks. Resist the urge to step in and make the process quicker. Instead, try to provide time for them to complete the tasks.

Prepare a Breakfast Feast Fit for a Dinosaur!

After watching the Pteranodon Family enjoy breakfast on the Dinosaur Train, your junior chef can build self-confidence in the kitchen by making some dinosaur inspired dishes for your family.

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Help Your Child Manage Emotions with Arthur

Whether facing down a bully, worrying about a new teacher or being the very last person on earth to lose his baby teeth, Arthur and his friends manage to solve their crises with imagination, kindness and a lot of humor.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Six-Year-Old

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