boost your 3 year old's confidence

The 13 Easiest Ways to Boost Your 3 Year Old’s Confidence

Your 3 Year Old’s Confidence: The Basics
The 13 Best Ways You Can Boost Your 3 Year Old’s Confidence

After hours of research trying to find out the best ways that actually work to boost your 3 year old’s self-confidence. I was surprised to find so many easy and amazingly effective methods of boosting my 3 year old’s self-confidence. Most of which I had never heard before. I knew then I had to write this article because I couldn’t wait to share these amazing methods with you! But first, something important.

Praising your child more might be the first idea that comes to mind to build your 3 year old’s confidence. But let me warn you. Praise is great if you use it wisely. Kids are smart. If you start praising them for every little thing they do they will begin to realize that your praise doesn’t mean much.

For example, if you praise your 3 year old the first time they tidy away their toys, that’s great. But you should try to avoid praising them every time they put away their toys. Or you will risk making good praise that really motivates them worthless.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can give your 3 year old positive feedback and boost their confidence without having to overuse exaggerated praise.

And that’s what I am here to share with you. Confidence boosters for your 3 year old that actually work!

A 3 year old who knows she is loved


Before we can discuss the amazing ways in which we can go above and beyond and skyrocket your 3 year old’s confidence. We need to make sure you have the basics sorted. Because these are the foundations that your child needs to build their confidence. They are the core strengths that your child can draw on when times are tough and life is challenging.

The 3 Foundations of Your 3 Year Old’s Confidence

  • They need to feel loved & belong to a family: If your child lacks love or doesn’t have a sense of belonging in your family then it will be impossible to try any methods to boost their confidence. Love and family are so central to a 3 year old’s life that they won’t be able to lead a happy one without it. Reinforce their sense of belonging and show them as much love as you can with your words and actions. If you are finding this difficult, it may be time to seek professional help. Sometimes people can have difficulty feeling love for their child but it doesn’t mean they never will. If you are experiencing something similar please seek help.
  • Quality time with your family: Your 3 year old learns their identity from their family. Every 3 year old needs to find their place in the world but they start by finding their place in the family. They need to feel the security of a close family if they are ever going to learn to be confident.
  • Trying new things & positive feedback: My two 3 year olds love to try new things. In exploring the world around them they are making sense of their environment. Your 3 year old needs to be able to try new things and be successful if they are ever going to find true confidence. It is crucial to developing their independence.

Now that we have the basics covered it’s time to look into the amazing methods I used to take my 3 year old’s confidence and hopefully yours, to the next level.

Confident little boy
Easy ways to boost your 3 year old’s confidence



Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Why is empathy so important for confidence? Improving their ability to feel empathy allows your 3 year old to understand that they are separate and independent from others. This means your 3 year old will realize that other people might have different thoughts and emotions from their own. Allowing your 3 year old to feel more confident because understanding what others are thinking means they feel more secure and their world is less confusing.

Empathy is the difference between true confidence that you want your child to develop and that kind of arrogant confidence which everyone dislikes.

How to improve your 3 year old’s empathy

  • Be a role model: You need to try and be more empathetic in everyday life and show your child by example. Think of others needs before your own. If you spot someone struggling to manage at the grocery store, try and help out. If you know a friend is feeling down, do something nice and cheer them up. Explain to your 3 year old why you are doing these things and discuss the emotions behind them.
  • Ask about their feelings: Listen to your 3 year old. When they are happy, angry or sad. Try and get them to describe their feelings. Discuss these feelings with them. Once they start to understand their own feelings, they will find it easier to understand the feelings of others.
  • Talk about others emotions: Use everyday examples of other people feeling emotions to discuss with your 3 year old. If you see a child who is sad and crying at the park. Ask them why they might be sad? Maybe they have fallen over? Or their time at the park is over? Talk to them about ways in which they or others could help the child.
  • Games: Here are some fun games you can play with your 3 year old to teach them about other people’s emotions:
    • Guess the person’s feelings: Point out different people around you and have your 3 year old guess what they are feeling right now and try and make up a reason why. For example, if you are in the park and see a child laughing on a swing. How is that child feeling?
    • Roleplay: Using your 3 year old’s favorite toys you can role-play different situations. For example, teddy has an accident, going on holiday, teddy has no friends. Discuss teddy’s feelings in these situations.
    • Pets: If you have pets (or just lots of cats/dogs in your neighborhood!) then you can both try and guess what your pets are thinking and feeling.
    • Guess the emotion: You each take it in turns to make different faces at each other. The other person has to try and guess what emotion they are feeling.


Confidence is all about giving your 3 year old the skills to thrive in life. You need to make sure that you are communicating these skills to your 3 year old in a way that encourages them to be independent and to try and solve their own problems. Communicating with a 3 year old is difficult at the best of times. Their attention span is extremely short. The way in which you are communicating with your child can either build up their confidence or tear it down.

How to improve communication between you and your 3 year old

  • Problems: When your 3 year old comes to you with their problems. Do your best to listen. Encourage them to explain their issue as much as possible. Then rather than giving your solution, try and work out a solution together to solve their problem. Telling your child what to do doesn’t foster any independence or boost their confidence. Helping them to arrive at their own solutions to their problems will massively improve their confidence and make them feel independent.
  • Style of communication: The way in which we communicate with our children affects their view of themselves and has an impact on their confidence. It’s easy to get frustrated when trying to communicate with a 3 year old. Their age has a large impact on how much attention and understanding they have. You may have to simplify instructions and repeat them often for it to sink in.

Improving communication between you and your 3 year old will mean they are more likely to come to you with their problems and other important issues. By coming to you themselves, they are more likely to listen to your guidance. Which will make them more successful in overcoming problems to become happier and more confident.


If you are serious about encouraging confidence in your 3 year old then you need to be careful of the language you use around them day to day. Language influences the way your child sees themselves and their place in the world. Language is subtle and often you can convey your thoughts and feelings to your child without even realizing it. If you are feeling stressed for example. Your child might sense your mood by the words you use to communicate with them. You must make sure that the language you use when communicating with them builds their confidence and self-esteem.

How to use language to build your 3 year old’s confidence

  • Positive language: Use positive language to encourage your child and build their confidence. It’s easy to be negative in frustrating situations, but it’s much more likely that your 3 year old will respond to positive language and change their behavior than with negative language. If you feel yourself getting angry and frustrated you have to remember your end goal. Will saying something negative to your child achieve your goal or just hurt their confidence?
  • Use problem-solving language: When your 3 year old has a problem. Next time try to encourage them to solve it themselves rather than giving them the solution. Use language like “So how do you think we should do it?”, “What do you think I might tell you to do?”, “Is there another way you could do this?”. Being able to solve their own problems (with a little guidance) will give their feelings of independence and confidence a massive boost.
  • Let go of negative comments: If you find yourself repeating negative comments when your 3 year old is naughty. Try to let them go next time. If you have to repeat comments to your 3 year old frequently, then your child is obviously not listening or understanding. It might be time to find a new way to get through to them. If you don’t, then these repetitive and negative discussions may damage their confidence.


When I think about my 3 year olds. I can see plenty of their amazing qualities and some of their not so great ones. I used to think that it would be a great idea to work on their weaknesses to make them a more well-rounded person. But even though, at the time, it seemed like the right thing to do, by constantly focusing on things that they are poor at, I was actually hurting their confidence.

At 3 years old your aim isn’t to make them well rounded little people. It’s to give them the gift of finding out that they a good at something. Give them the boost of confidence they need at this age to feel independent. Focus on something they are really good at and enjoy and you will see the dramatic change in their personality. Your child will feel like a success. This new found confidence will spill over into the other weaker areas of their life and you might start to see surprising improvements.

Consistently focusing on the poorer aspects of their personality will impact their confidence negatively. Imagine being constantly made to do things you were bad at and didn’t enjoy day after day. Your confidence would take a sudden dip and you would probably start to feel like a failure. It would be easy to get frustrated when everything was hard.

I know it feels like the wrong thing to do. It felt that way for me at first. But when I concentrated on my children’s strengths. Their confidence soared. So I learned, children need to experience success to feel good about themselves.


When I first read this. I thought, “Well, obviously my child knows I love them”. A large part of my day is dedicated to doing things or planning things for them. Then I realized, I suppose at 3 years old they don’t really understand most of the sacrifices and work that you and I do as parents to keep them happy and healthy. I needed to do more to make sure they knew I loved them.

Loving your 3 year old is easy to do. The issue I found may not be loving them enough but “am I communicating the feeling of love to them in the best way?”. A way that uses your love to boost their feelings of security and confidence. Your love gives them a solid foundation of strength and happiness that prepares them for challenges they face every day.

Love isn’t a word or even a big hug or cuddle every now and then. Love is shown through every interaction that you have with your 3 year old on a day to day basis. Love to them would probably feel like a warm fuzzy feeling that they get from the sum of all the interactions they have with you and the rest of the family through their daily lives.

How to make your 3 year old feel more loved

  • Think before you act: Be aware that every interaction you have with your 3 year old counts towards the feeling of love that they will get in the pit of their stomach. Will this interaction build strength and confidence? Or will it wash those feelings away? Even if they are being naughty, remember to keep your words calm and your actions fair. Love can be shown in the way you discipline your 3 year old. (See more about effective discipline in my article “How to Discipline a 3 Year Old – A Complete Guide”.)
  • Love is unconditional: Your 3 year old needs to feel that your love is unconditional. Not something that can be present one minute then disappears if they make a mistake. When your child feels unconditional love they are less defensive and more open and engaged with others. They will be happier, secure and confident. Try not to put conditions on love, for example saying “If you loved your mum you wouldn’t be acting like this” could make your child feel like your love can be taken away.
  • Think of them first: Make sure they know that you always think of them first. That they are the most important thing in your life. Your 3 year old needs to feel special and valuable.
  • Show and tell: This is the easy one. Try to show them your love through hugs, kisses, holding hands and other affection as much as possible. Also, remember to tell them you love them as much as you can. Sometimes it’s easy to think they know, but they will always like to hear it and feel it.
  • Give them time: Always make sure that you have the time for things that are important to them. Their playgroups, their arts, and crafts, if they want you to play a game with them. 3 year olds thrive on your attention. If you are too distant, they will lose their feelings of security and this, in turn, will impact their confidence.
  • Use language: Think about the words you use to communicate with them. Use them to build the feeling of love that they have. Don’t use it to point out their failures.
  • Accept and support: Accept and support your 3 year old for who they are no matter what. Confidence can be positively influenced by your acceptance of your 3 year old. Support your child’s choices that they make. Maybe you wanted your child to enjoy football, but they enjoy soccer. Go with it. Accept their decision and support them.


The way your 3 year old responds to mistakes can show a lot about their current level of confidence. Making mistakes and other setbacks are a natural part of growing up and life. You need to help your 3 year old understand that mistakes are experiences to learn and try again. If you make a mistake it isn’t a bad thing, it just lets you know where you need to improve.

As a parent, I know we want to protect our 3 year olds from setbacks in life. But experiencing adversity actually leads to growth. When they find they can overcome setbacks with either a little bit of guidance or completely by themselves. The boost you will see in their confidence will be spectacular.

You need to steer your 3 year old away from the believing that the mistakes they make are because of their natural abilities and can’t be changed. This fixed view that they can’t learn and grow will be harmful to them in the future when they come up against the inevitable problems that life throws at us all. You need to encourage your child to develop a positive self-image that they can overcome obstacles. This confidence in their abilities will lead them to be happier children.

To get them to the point where they can view mistakes as opportunities for learning, you should get them to try and fail. Get them used to failure and tell them that it isn’t the end. Help them discover that this failure is just the start, and to try again. Your 3 year old’s eventual success will be because of all the things they learned through their failures.

Family is security to a 3 year old


At 3 years old, your child naturally wants to be helpful. Like me, I’m sure you have heard the words “Can I help?” hundreds of times. And I also bet you have thought “If I do this myself it will take half the time!”. But recently after conducting research into how responsibility positively affects confidence in your 3 year old I have started to encourage my kids to help out and take on more responsibility that is appropriate to their age. The results have been amazing!

It seems that opportunities to help others inspire confidence in your 3 year old. It improves their self-image. Gives them the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping others and gives them confidence in their own skills and independence.

How to give your 3 year old more responsibility

  • Focus on their strengths: Look for areas where your 3 year old already shows good skill and try to give them responsibility in those areas. Start small at first. Give them easy successes. When you focus on their strengths and they succeed, it boosts their confidence and self-image from the feeling of responsibility.
  • DON’T start with chores: When you think of responsibility for your child, you tend to think along the lines of giving them chores. Learning to do chores is great, but I wouldn’t start their journey of responsibility with them. Because nobody likes doing chores. Start with responsibilities that they actually like doing and they will be more likely to do them. For example, if they like shopping. Give them responsibilities around grocery shopping, helping to write and hold the list. Choosing the items, packing the bags, etc. Giving them a taste of the benefits of being responsible will encourage them to take on more responsibility in other areas.
  • Model responsibility: You have to be a responsible role model for your 3 year old. They will always do what you do and not what you say. For example, if you want them to be tidy, you have to be tidy yourself. If your child sees that your room is a mess, then they are never going to tidy theirs. At 3 years old your child is keen on everything being fair. And tidying their room when they know that yours is a tip isn’t very fair.


Your 3 year old needs to meet the challenges in their life head on and overcome problems by making good decisions. If they do they will feel empowered and in control. These skills are so important for your child’s confidence and self-image. But how can you teach them these skills?

I know as a parent I had to learn to trust my children more. In my eyes, they always seemed younger than they actually were. I needed to learn to give them the opportunity to make their own decisions when it was appropriate, rather than just making decisions for them. I needed to let them experience problems that they had to the power to solve themselves without jumping in to try and help them straight away.

It’s important to remember not to expect your 3 year old to solve problems that are too difficult. Or this might knock their confidence rather than help it. Pick things that are challenging but not impossible.

How to improve your 3 year olds problem solving and decision-making skills

  • Be their role model: Involve your 3 year old in decisions you make and family decisions. Value their contribution to the process and listen to their ideas. When they watch you solve problems and make good decisions they will be more likely to give it a try themselves.
  • Provide choices: Try and give your 3 year old choices when going about their day. Make sure you stick with whatever they decide. Try not to undermine them. You could let them decide what they have for dinner, what clothes they wear, if they want to go to the park or go swimming.
  • Talk to them about your decisions: Explain why you make a decision in simple terms that they can understand. Talk them through the process you went through to make the decision and help them understand why you came to the outcome. When your 3 year old has some understanding about how you make decisions life will be less confusing for them.


The way in which you discipline your 3 year old can either harm a child’s self-esteem and confidence or strengthen it. Discipline is an important part of parenting. It is a way for them to learn self-discipline, which has a positive impact on their confidence.

The most common issue that might be holding you back is repeating the same discipline that you received as a child. It didn’t do me any harm? Way of thinking. Let’s look at the poor and positive ways of using discipline.

Poor types of discipline for your 3 year old:

  • Unfair
  • Too harsh
  • Inconsistent
  • Inconsistent between parents
  • Not explained or planned effectively
  • Verbal abuse
  • Humiliating
  • Physical punishment

Using these types of discipline methods are negative and will tear down your child’s self confidence.

Positive ways to discipline your 3 year old:

Discipline doesn’t have to be negative. It can play a positive role in the development of your 3 year old. Discipline is a very important way in which your child learns self-discipline.

  • The goal of discipline is to promote self-discipline and teach children about acceptable boundaries.
  • Try and prevent discipline issues before they arise. Look at the ways you can prevent your children from getting into situations that might be difficult for them.
  • Work as a team with your partner. This promotes consistency for your child which gives your them security and is great for boundary setting.
  • Be consistent with discipline but don’t be rigid with it. Discipline needs to feel fair and be consistent for your 3 year old or they will just ignore it.
  • Be calm and take the anger away from discipline. Be prepared for your 3 year old to repeatedly test boundaries you have set. It may seem frustrating, but this is how they learn.
  • Pick your battles. Learn to let some minor things go so you can concentrate on the important boundaries you need to set and uphold.


Look for the effort that your 3 year old is making. It is the most important aspect of your 3 year olds attempts at getting things right. If you can see that they have put a lot of effort into something but not succeeded, praise that effort.

When they attempt a task sometimes they can get lucky and things work out for them without any effort. If you praise this then you can send the wrong message which is “Outcomes are down to luck”. Praise their effort not the outcomes and you can reinforce the message that “My effort counts”.


I know I am guilty of doing this. I have to remind myself that they are only 3 years old. At this age they may lack some of the developments, mentally and physically, to become more confident. Don’t push them too much. However, as long as you are giving them age-appropriate tasks like the ones I have given you in this article. You can boost a 3 year old’s confidence.

Giving your 3 year old a task appropriate for a 4 or 5 year old may seem like a great idea to boost their development. What often happens is that they find the task too hard and it actually ends up harming their self-confidence.


If you show too much worry around your 3 year old they can easily pick up on your mood. If you are feeling anxious about your 3 year old facing a problem. When they see you worrying and feeling other similar negative emotions often it can make your 3 year old feel less secure and confident in themselves.

Your child uses you as an emotional reference for how how they should feel. When they are exposed to new and challenging situations they will look to you. If you start to worry for them then your body language and mood might be telling them that they can’t do it. Body language like this will seriously knock their confidence.


Your 3 year old looks to you for how they should act. If you are confident in everyday situations then they will pick up on that. They will want to be just like you. If you generally lack confidence, they will, unfortunately, follow in your footsteps. Try to act confident around them even if you don’t feel like you are. Just “fake it until you make it!”. Be their role model and inspire them. After all, if you are asking them to become more confident, it’s only fair if you improve your confidence too!


Boosting your 3 year old’s confidence is easy when you know how. Now you’ve learned plenty of ways you can help them build self-esteem and gain their own independence. Just make sure you have the basic foundations in the right place first (as I detailed in the first section). I worked very hard on this guide and put in countless hours of research but I can’t wait for you to get to work applying these methods and see your 3 year old’s confidence soar! Then all my hard work will have been worth it.

I personally have noticed a massive improvement in my 3 year olds confidence. It’s hard not to jump in when I see them having a problem, but now I restrain myself as I know it’s the right thing to do. They have seriously surprised me by sorting out some of their own issues without my help! They are much more capable than I ever gave them credit for. I know your children can experience the same feeling of confidence and success as mine have. Have the confidence in yourself to try.

Thanks for reading.