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Quick Tips to Build Self-Direction & Self-Confidence in Children

(Recommended for Ages 2-10 years)

a child and father about to high-five, building blocks piled into a tower on the floorStrong self-determination skills help children with and without visual impairments become successful adults. Self-determination skills enable the development of healthy relationships through recognizing one’s own strengths and skills, feeling empowered to support others, and knowing when and how to ask for help.

Caretakers play an important role in providing the three key components of self-determination for children:

  1. opportunities to feel successful at something
  2. connectedness to someone or something
  3. the belief that they can do things on their own

Knowing when/how to build self-determination skills can be overwhelming and frustrating in a busy household. However, research shows that as few as 30 minutes of child-directed, undivided attention with caregivers each week can improve a child’s sense of self-direction and self-confidence when the appropriate guidelines are followed.

Recommended guidelines for child-directed play sessions:

  • Ensure that each child has their own special time with a caregiver each week (preferably a set schedule).
  • Set a specific amount of time for your play sessions (30 minutes at once, or a few shorter sessions work, too!).
  • Invite your child to play and give them your undivided attention.
  • Play should be completely child directed
    • Avoid the temptation to ask questions – Be quiet and present.
    • Wait until your child asks you to help them or to play with a specific item – let them direct you.
  • Describe what the child is doing and feelings that they are expressing
    • Examples: “You have chosen to play with clay.” and “You are frustrated that the clay is too hard to roll into a ball.”
  • Give a warning when this special time is coming to an end (e.g. 5-minute warning)

Additional Resources: