Promoting Self-Confidence

With your support, toddlers develop self-confidence as they try new skills, persist, and succeed

Toddler boy having fun trying to climb on jungle gym

At a Glance

Young children can do a lot when given the support and encouragement to try – and succeed! – on their own. Opportunities to successfully accomplish tasks, such as stacking cups, putting on a jacket, or cleaning up a spill, help young children develop confidence in their skills. This is important because self-confidence increases children’s engagement and motivation. It empowers them to try new things and persist during challenging moments. Educators can support children’s self-confidence by giving them genuine responsibilities, supporting their attempts to try new things, and giving them the support and space to experience success.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can help toddlers develop their self-confidence

Encourage Independence

Build children’s self-confidence by inviting them to take on meaningful tasks independently. Notice how this educator lets a child pour his own milk and get materials to clean up a spill. 

Narrate Self-Confidence

Notice and comment on children’s confidence in tasks and feelings of pride and accomplishment. This fosters children’s confidence and independence.

Provide Scaffolds and Hints

Instead of solving problems or doing things for children, provide hints and scaffolds that help them carry out tasks on their own as much as possible.


I Can, Can You?

Written and photographed by Marjorie W. Pitzer, this book features children showing confidence and pride in their abilities.

Book cover for I Can, Can You?


Building Connection to Support Self-Confidence

Children exposed to trauma need to feel safe and included to develop self-confidence. Harvard’s Dr. Junlei Li discusses the power of “deep and simple” interactions that make a difference.


Working with Families to Support Children's Self-Confidence

In this article from the Child Mind Institute, Liz Greene shares four ways families can support the development of self-confidence.


Help Children Become Thoughtful, Informed, and Brave About Race

This action guide, produced by EmbraceRace, shares small, but powerful steps to nurture race-brave children. Available in English and Spanish.

Activity Cards for Toddler Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin³ curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways to promote a toddler's developing self-confidence
Follow the Leader Activity Card label
using games

Follow the Leader

Try these fun variations of a traditional game that promotes leadership.

I Can Do It Activity Card label
acknowledging effort

I Can Do It

Suggest moves or tasks for children to show off what they can do.

Kicking Balls Activity Card label

Kicking Balls

Let children try different kinds of kicks or movements with a variety of balls.

Sing My Name Activity Card label
using music

Sing My Name!

Create simple melodies incorporating children's names when you greet or address them.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills