Dear Mr. Dad: I hear so much about the need for kids to have self-esteem and self-confidence, but I’m not sure how to go about instilling either one in my kids. They’re only four and six, so maybe it’s no big deal yet—but is there anything I can do now to raise confident kids?
A: Absolutely. It’s never too soon—or too late, for that matter—to think about your child’s future. But first, let me take a minute to hopefully eliminate some confusion. Self-confidence and self-esteem are related, but they’re not identical. Self-esteem is somewhat passive and has to do with how we see ourselves—what (or whom) we see when we look in the mirror. Healthy self-esteem is also crucial in developing positive attitudes and actions toward others. You’re much more likely to treat someone else with empathy and respect if you have a positive view of yourself.
Self-confidence is more active, and describes our willingness and ability to interact with the world around us.