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Teaching Strategies to Help Build Self-Confidence

Janelle Cox

As a teacher, it’s easy to spot the students who are confident in themselves. These students tend to speak out more and are self-assured in their skills. However, for those students who aren’t so confident, you’ll see them as more reserved. These are the students who are always questioning their abilities and tend to shy away from answering questions. Learning for them can feel like they are swimming upstream. For children who are still emotionally developing, positive feelings like self-worth and self-acceptance can be hard to come by. Many children believe you are either born with self-confidence or you’re not. These children with low self-esteem are unsure of themselves and often allow themselves to get treated poorly. Having self-esteem matters, because when you feel good about yourself, it will resonate in every aspect of your life. As teachers, we have a powerful influence on our students, and we can help them feel confident and be proud of themselves as well as their accomplishments. We can help them feel secure not only in their own skin, but in their learning as well. Here are some teaching strategies that do that.

Teaching Strategies to Nurture Self-Confidence

If you feel that your students are in need of a little confidence boost in their self-esteem, you can start by using these teaching strategies.

Offer Praise

The first thing that you can do is offer praise and acknowledgment for students’ accomplishments. You can do this both in private, as well as in front of their classmates. However, it’s always best to start with a positive statement followed by something that they need to work on.

Don’t Correct Everything

Try not to correct every little single thing the student says that is wrong. When you do this it will only harm her self-esteem. Also, try not to interrupt the student when he is talking by correcting them. This will also harm his confidence, not boost it.

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Set Attainable Goals

Setting attainable goals in the beginning of the year is a great way to show students how much they have grown. Try and have them set at least one to three goals that you know they’ll be able to reach. When they reach their goal, make a big deal of it. This will help boost their self-esteem.

Give Students Choices

Give students the opportunity to choose what they learn, this will help them build their self-worth and self-confidence. You can try a learning menu or choice board, where students get to choose which activities they want to learn about. The more positive choices they make, the better they’ll feel about themselves.

Be a Positive Influence

Be sure to always express a positive attitude at all times. This will show your students that you’re on their side, and that they’re worth your attention. The more positive you are, the more positive they’ll become.

Build on Students’ Strengths

Create opportunities for students to succeed by building on their strengths. For example, if a student knows a lot of information about reptiles, then ask them to tell you more about those animals. You can say, “I’m unfamiliar with reptiles, can you please tell me more about them?” Asking students for their help is a great confidence boost to their ego.

Be Encouraging

Encourage students to do better than they did before. For example, if Reesa got a “B” on her last math test, encourage her to get an “A” next time. It’s important for students to compete against themselves not their classmates because this will help build their self-confidence.

Activities to Build Self-Confidence

To help students recognize and appreciate their growth, try a few of these classroom activities.  

  • Have students draw a picture of themselves on the middle of a piece of paper. Then ask them to write all of the things that they like about themselves around the picture. Encourage them to add to the picture every time they think of something new they like about themselves.
  • Challenge students to keep track of all of the things that they can do and add to the list throughout the school year (How many math facts they memorized, etc.).
  • Have students choose one thing that they would like to get better at. Then, give them a timeframe to accomplish this task (one week to get an “A” on the science quiz, two weeks to beat their math facts score). Remind students that they are in competition with themselves and only themselves.
  • Challenge students to estimate how long it will take them to complete one task. Usually, the students who think it’ll take them an hour or more to complete their homework are less inclined to do their homework. However, once they figure out that a shorter time commitment is required they will be more confident to do their work.
  • Help students see that there’s a connection between hard work and success. Oftentimes, less-persistent students think that more-persistent students are smarter than them when that’s the case. Have a discussion about how long it took to study for the students who got a good grade on the last exam, and how long it took the students who didn’t do well. Sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation for students to really grasp that everyone has to work hard in order to succeed.

Nurture your students’ strengths, ban harsh criticism, and be a positive role model. When you do these things, along with the suggestions listed above, self-esteem and self-confidence will develop within time.

Do you have teaching strategies to help build your students’ self-confidence? Please feel free to share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com