It is quite a common sight to find parents complaining that their child lacks the self-confidence to express themselves in many situations like playing well with others or applying themselves at school. Often, this lack of self-confidence can be made worse by not only the type of toys that a child plays with, but also the environment in which they play. As such, there are several things that parents should keep in mind when trying to help their child develop self-confidence.
Firstly, it is important that parents understand the environment in which their child is playing. Children can be exposed to wonderful, confidence building toys, but if they are surrounded by unsupportive individuals then this self-confidence will never develop. Children that lack self-confidence need encouragement and support on a regular basis, and they may not get it from other children. Similarly, adults that supervise play might not be aware of the importance of encouraging your child. Whether it is at home or at a playgroup, parents should always ask themselves whether the play environment is conducive to building confidence in shy children. This might require you as a parent to take the lead to ensure all children are included and encouraged at all times.
Keeping that in mind, what kinds of toys are helpful in building self-confidence?
Firstly, you should always consider whether the toy is age and difficulty appropriate for your child. While achieving a difficult task is extremely rewarding for children, there is no benefit to providing children with a challenge that is beyond their capabilities. Toys that offer children a payoff and allow them to experience success are wonderful for building self-confidence.
Examples could be puzzle toys or construction toys where the finished product can be seen to match the example picture. However, you should always start easy, even if it seems too easy for your child. Allow them to experience success (and the joy of getting praised for a job well done) and they will be motivated to tackle more difficult problems.
Digital and interactive toys like the Zoomer Dino can also be extremely helpful in building self-confidence when used in a suitable manner. Digital toys and interactive toys often verbally motivate, encourage and compliment children for trying a task, and particularly for successfully completing a challenge. These kinds of interactive toys tell the child when they do something right, and this is extremely useful in building confidence.
However, it should be kept in mind that you don’t need to rely on a toy to offer this support. Parent led play is also vital in building self-confidence in children. Any kind of success that a child experiences when playing should be recognised by a parent. Similarly, when faced with an obstacle or problem, children should be encouraged, and if necessary helped in achieving their goal. This kind of positive reinforcement is a powerful tool, and can make the difference between a shy child and a child full of confidence.