Every parent wants for his or her child to grow up with healthy self-esteem. However, is liking oneself and feeling like a worthwhile person enough? When we look a bit further, we see that feeling and actually being both capable and competent may be even more important.
Self-efficacy is a concept that was developed by psychologist Albert Bandura in the 1970s. It’s described by Julia Lythcott-Haims as, “…having the belief in your abilities to complete a task, reach goals, and manage a situation. It means believing in your abilities – not in your parent’s abilities to help you do those things or to do them for you.”
You might be asking, “Well, isn’t that the definition of self-esteem?” The answer to that would be no.
Does your child lack confidence in his/her abilities when you know that he/she is fully capable? If so, then contact our licensed psychologists in Tampa today to address the situation.
What’s the Difference?
Self-esteem refers to how your child measures his or her own self-worth, whereas self-efficacy is based on their sense of their own ability to perform tasks or handle a situation. As your child grows and learns new things, their self-efficacy grows. Both are equally important for your child.As your child grows and learns new things, their self-efficacy grows. Click To Tweet
You want your child to grow up with a heathy level of self-esteem, knowing their self-worth and having confidence in their abilities (self-efficacy). Lythcott-Haims tells us, “Self-esteem influences self-efficacy, but self-efficacy is built by doing the work and seeing that success came from effort.”
Children with high self-efficacy show high levels of self-confidence. Because of believing that they are capable people, they may be more willing to take risks and are less fearful of failure. This allows them to try and do more things. It’s like a snowball moving in a positive direction – the more they succeed, the better they realistically feel about their ability to succeed.
Low Self-EfficacyA child with low self-efficacy suffers from the fear of risk. Click To Tweet
The opposite is true for lacking confidence in one’s capabilities. A child with low self-efficacy suffers from the fear of risk. They avoid risk for fear of failure. They experience self-doubt, which keeps them from trying new things and delaying their ability to build self-efficacy.
What You Can Do
If your child suffers from low self-efficacy, what can you, as a parent, do to help improve it? As they grow, teach them the tools they need to master self-efficacy on their own. This can include:
- Finding a Role Model – If your child can identify with someone who is successful in an area they’re trying to master, they are more apt to continue to build their skills. For instance, your child may not be doing so well in a sport. Identifying with a role model who once struggled as a child and is now successful can give your son or daughter hope that they too can succeed if they continue to learn and improve their skills.
- Making a Plan – If your child needs more practice in their sport, help them identify ways to improve their abilities. Encourage them to make a plan to attend a summer camp that works on improving skills or finding a sports tutor to help get extra practice. Encourage him/her to take small steps to bring them closer to their goals while teaching them to find ways to improve and grow. We have recently met many kids who want and expect to be instantly good at new things and have little interest or patience in practicing. Help your kids see that most things in life require planning, time and dedication, and when they put a plan in place over time, they are more apt to see results and feel better about their abilities.
- Reinforcement – As a parent, it’s important that you reinforce behaviors that teach your child instead of make them feel as if they are doing something wrong. Think back to when your child was a toddler trying to learn how to put that square block into the round hole. You didn’t say, “You are so dumb, don’t you know that the square block has to go in the square hole?” Instead you knew that your child was learning and hadn’t mastered this skill, so you said, “The square block goes in the square hole and this ball goes into the round hole”, or “What do you think would happen if you try the other hole?” And you continued to reinforce it until your child knew it on his or her own, without your help.
Mastering Through Showing
Another example can involve your child who is learning to play softball for the spring team. He/she has never played much before and doesn’t quite understand how to get the glove under the ball to catch it. They fumble and drop balls and start to feel inadequate at the task. You don’t immediately write them off as a bad softball player.Learning to release the judgment of failure is an important lesson. Click To Tweet
Instead, the coach steps in and shows him/her how to hold their glove and catch the ball, using their other hand to steady the ball in their glove once they catch it. He/she now feels accomplished because they’ve been taught to do the right things. Their self-efficacy in catching softballs starts to climb as they master the skill. You can’t master a skill if someone hasn’t showed you the technique.
What happens when your child has done these things but still can’t master the skill? The important thing to reinforce is that we aren’t all cut out to be the best softball players. Learning to release the judgment of failure is an important lesson. Not being a master softball player is not good or bad. Reinforce what your child does well and encourage them to focus on the things they DO do well so they feel more empowered to not dwell on the things they aren’t good at.
Here to Help Your Child
Growing up and learning new skills can oftentimes be difficult for a child. As a parent, it can also be difficult to see and experience your loved one struggle to learn new skills for fear of failing. Our psychologists in Tampa are fully aware of what it means to be a parent and encourage our kids to try new things. If you’ve noticed your child struggling to master new skills for fear of failure, then contact us today for more information.