How Play Builds Confidence
It’s no secret play is an essential part of every child’s healthy growth and development. It helps them build essential life skills, including self-confidence and independence.
This month, Hannah and Stephanie, our in-house early years expert and Education Specialist, share their thoughts on how confidence is built through play.
Confidence, independence, and play - how are they related?
Stephanie: “Play is a safe place to practice decision-making and build confidence. Letting children participate in risky play allows them to test what they are capable of. It helps them safely experience their limits and achieve their own goals, ultimately boosting their confidence.”
Hannah: “When children play, they are able to make their own rules. Giving them the independence and freedom to decide what they want to do improves their decision-making skills. Over time, they become more confident as they are given more opportunities to make their own choices.”
What types of play help build a healthy self-confidence?
Stephanie: “There can be a lot of pressure on children to achieve specific results at the end of play activities. Open-ended play instills confidence in them because they don’t experience the pressure of producing one specific outcome. Children also experience a great sense of achievement when they figure out how to accomplish their own goals in their own way.”
Hannah: “Most play requires creativity, but imaginative play, in particular, is great for building confidence. It allows children to practice what they see in real life and work through real-world problems. A child playing dentist may feel more comfortable and confident in visiting the dentist’s office later.”
How can caregivers support confidence-building in play?
Stephanie: “Praising children’s efforts and problem-solving strategies empowers them to seek out more play-based learning themselves. Like everything, it is important to find a balance. While it is good to challenge and encourage children during play, we must also give them the opportunity to explore play freely.”
Hannah: “Asking children open-ended ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions helps them think through problems. It’s all about asking the right questions to know when to support a child and when to give them space. Children are capable, they like independence, and they gain confidence from it.”
Steph Meng-Ramirez, Ontario-certified teacher and Education Specialist at the London Children’s Museum
Hannah Platt, Public Programs Facilitator at the London Children’s Museum