Promoting Self-Efficacy in Children

Course excerpt from Building Resilience in your Young Client

Promoting Self-Efficacy in ChildrenSelf-efficacy is a belief about what a person can do and how well he or she can do it. Self-efficacy is a multidimensional construct and is possibly the most central mechanism of human agency—the ability to influence intentionally one’s functioning and life circumstances. It determines how environmental opportunities and impediments are perceived and therefore influences peoples’ goals, values, and behavior.

A resilient child is able to influence the environment in which he lives. This is part of self-efficacy, and it can be accomplished by seeking ways in which to foster a child’s independence and encourage his autonomy.

Here are 10 ways to promote self-efficacy in children:

1. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Giving Choices

Giving children choices hands some control over to the child without compromising the adult’s authority – a win/win situation. Implicit in the choice is the fact that the child needs to fulfill the task, but gets to choose how it will be accomplished. Giving choices can diffuse conflict and allow children to assert their independence in a healthy way. It exercises their brains by making them think and solve problems. It is an extremely effective technique to use with independent, defiant children and toddlers.

2. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Grading the Experience

Parents and clinicians want to challenge their children within their abilities.

3. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Identifying and Reinforcing Competence

We can point out to children their accomplishments.

4. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Valuing Play

Play is an integral part of building resilience in children. It could be argued that active play is so central to child development that it should be included in the very definition of childhood. Play offers more than cherished memories of growing up; it allows children to develop creativity and imagination while developing physical, cognitive, and emotional strengths. …..Play is a natural tool that children can and should use to build their resilience. At its core, the development of resilience is about learning to overcome challenges and adversity…. children learn to deal with social challenges and navigate peer relationships on the playground. In addition, even small children use imaginative play and fantasy to take on their fears and create or explore a world they can master. Play allows them to create fantasy heroes that conquer their deepest fears. It allows them to practice adult roles, sometimes while playing with other children and sometimes while play-acting with adults. Sensitive adults can observe this play and recognize the fears and fantasies that need to be addressed; however, in many cases, play itself helps children meet their own needs. As they experience mastery of the world they create, children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resilience they need to address future challenges.

5. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Showing Respect for a Child’s Struggle

Telling a child that something is easy often leads to a double-edged discouragement. If he completes the tasks, then he merely did something “easy” and it is not much of an accomplishment. If he can’t succeed, then he has failed at something that should have been easy. If we show respect for a child’s struggle and say “this can be hard,” or “it is not so simple,” then we send him the message that if he does succeed it is a meaningful accomplishment. If he fails, at least he knows he made the effort on a difficult task.

6. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Showing Respect for a Child’s Eventual Readiness

Instead of disregarding children’s fears and hesitancy, acknowledge the child’s timetable.

7. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Encouraging Children to Think of Their Own Answers

Instead of rushing to answer questions, encourage the child to think of her own answers. Children often use questions to initiate verbal interactions. They may have already thought about the answers, and get bored when we answer their questions too soon.

8. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Letting Children Dream

Children love to dream. It is one of the greatest pleasures of childhood. They need adults with a listening ear. This helps gain our client’s trust and helps create and maintain strong client relationships. Hopes and dreams are a great topic for a language lesson.

9. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Celebrating Mistakes

Adults need to let children make mistakes and learn from them. We need to watch them struggle with and settle their own problems. We also need to let them do as much as they can for themselves. Treat children responsibly so they can function on their own.

It is hard to let children make their own mistakes. We feel, “If they would just listen to us then they would not have to suffer from their mistakes.” Allowing them to do for themselves sometimes makes more work for us. “If I let them pour the juice, it can spill. If I do it, it won’t.”

One important life skill is learning to recognize our mistakes, repair them and grow from them. Parents often fear allowing their children to move forward in life and make mistakes. We want to protect them. However, children who are not allowed to make mistakes can become fearful of making the smallest decisions, may be hesitant to solve problems and afraid to try new experiences. We want to promote resilience in our children. Resilient children make mistakes, get up, brush themselves off, and move on.

10. Promoting Self-Efficacy by Teaching Children Perseverance

Teaching kids to persevere and keep trying when the going gets tough is an important factor in promoting resilience. The ability to keep trying when we don’t succeed aids us in developing solution-oriented thinking patterns.

We all know stories of successful people who failed many times before reaching their goals. Making mistakes and using them as opportunities is an essential part of learning how to cope, grow and finally succeed. It is important to teach children that to achieve expertise in any area it takes many little steps and a lot of practice.

When children are having trouble with any given task it is crucial that we encourage them to keep on trying. When a baby is learning to walk we clap and smile for each step that they take, no matter if they fall. We need to have the same attitude when our children learn to pour milk and spill, do a puzzle and get frustrated, start a homework task and find themselves overwhelmed.

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Building Resilience in your Young ClientBuilding Resilience in your Young Client is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings. It has long been observed that there are certain children who experience better outcomes than others who are subjected to similar adversities, and a significant amount of literature has been devoted to the question of why this disparity exists. Research has largely focused on what has been termed “resilience.” Health professionals are treating an increasing number of children who have difficulty coping with 21st century everyday life. Issues that are hard to deal with include excessive pressure to succeed in school, bullying, divorce, or even abuse at home. This course provides a working definition of resilience and descriptions of the characteristics that may be associated with better outcomes for children who confront adversity in their lives. It also identifies particular groups of children – most notably those with developmental challenges and learning disabilities – who are most likely to benefit from resilience training. Course #30-98 | 2017 | 53 pages | 20 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501) and the Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).