Nurturing Kids’ Confidence Through Play: An Age by Age Guide

No matter our age, how we feel about ourselves influences the way we act and how we perceive other people. And as parents, nurturing in our children a strong sense of confidence and self-worth at home better equips them to interact with peers in the outside world.


One healthy, non-threatening way to develop kids’ self-esteem is through imaginative and creative play. Playing with your child while giving them your full attention is key; it communicates the fundamental message that they are valuable and worth your time.

Consider these age-appropriate confidence-builders:

Babies (0-2 years)

The interest you show now in doing things with your baby will pay dividends later: your child will want to spend more time with you when he or she is older!

  • Simple peg puzzles teach organization along with ABC’s, 123’s, and object names.
  • Shape sorting toys promote tactile engagement and foster shape and color recognition.

Preschoolers (3-4 years)

As your child grows, recognize and encourage his or her talents and help them develop. The whole person will naturally thrive.

  • Games engage the whole family while teaching basic strategy.
  • Role play costumes let kids indulge in fantasy while sparking the imagination.
  • Teach children to identify with their emotions using simple arts & crafts projects.
  • Floor puzzles with lots of big pieces and self-correcting puzzles instill confidence and exercise independence.

Older Kids (5+)

Your job is to nurture your child’s natural abilities while striking a balance between pushing and protecting. Encouraging your child to try improves skills while building self-confidence.

  • Plant a family garden to teach responsibility, cause and effect, and instill pride.
  • Few things mark success more than learning to tie one’s shoes. A little practice every day can make this possible in no time.
  • Hopscotch and other outdoor play games provide exercise and build coordination.

How do you use playtime activities to help boost confidence in your child? Share with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook.

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Related articles from the Melissa & Doug blog:

- Let Your Kids’ Personalities Shine!

- Going Through the {e}Motions

- Why Costumes are Good for Kids