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Support Self-Efficacy in Your Child

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Self-efficacy is founded in having the belief in your ability to succeed. Having self-efficacy has lifelong benefits that can support a person through academics, athletics, careers, and other personal or professional achievements.

There are many ways to encourage self-efficacy in your child. You may even use these strategies for yourself. When you are confronted with a challenge or obstacle, having the belief in yourself that you have the ability to overcome and succeed is just as important as the actions you take.

Dad with child giving high five

Self-Efficacy and Academics

In a 2018 study, Dr. Albert Banderas, the father of self-efficacy, and other colleagues demonstrated the positive and direct relationship between self-efficacy and academic achievement. Here is an example of how this relationship works.

  • Student 1: “I’m not good at math. I will never pass this test.”
  • Student 2: “Although math is not my strongest area, I am confident in how I have studied. I believe I am prepared for my test, and I will do well.”
  • Student 3: “I know I am good at math, but I heard this test is hard. I don’t know if I have what it takes to pass.”
  • Student 4: “I know I am good at math and I have studied. I know I have what it takes to pass this test.”

These examples show students with varied mathematical skill levels and their varying beliefs in their own ability to perform well on a test. Of the four students, student 2 and student 4 would most likely perform the best on the math test because they show self-efficacy. 

Surprisingly, student 2 could outperform student 3 because student 2 has higher self-efficacy even though student 3 may be more proficient in math.

Ways to Support Self-Efficacy

The tips below will help you to build self-efficacy in your child.

1. Reflecting on Past Experiences:  Remind your child of past achievements so they can recall their ability to succeed based on the fact that they have, indeed, done it before. 

2. Modeling Peers:  When your child sees or knows that peers have succeeded, they may be inspired to succeed as well. Your child may think, “If they can do it, so can I.” However, it is important to keep peer modeling framed positively. Do not make it a negative comparison.  

3. Setting Goals:  Making short-term, attainable goals can help your child build strategies to overcome challenges and obstacles. These become small wins that build up confidence and belief in their own abilities, leading to mastery experiences.

4. Giving Encouragement and Remembering the Big Picture: Encouraging your child while they are working toward a goal can improve their mindset, experience, and outcome. Meaningful encouragement gives them the motivation to continue. That encouragement may be that little boost they need to solve a problem or overcome a setback. Knowing you believe in them can help your child believe in their own abilities. Remind your child of the big picture goal they are trying to reach. 

5. Providing Positive Feedback: Give your child positive feedback as often as possible. It can help them to understand where they succeeded and where they can work on making improvements. Remember to identify what went well and why.

For more information on Dr. Albert Banderas’s concept on self-efficacy, please refer to this resource from Positive Psychology or this article from Very Well Mind.

Additional Resources:

Maddux, J. E. & Kleiman, E. (2020). Self-efficacy. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. Retrieved from http://noba.to/bmv4hd6p

Chowdhury, Madhuleena Roy. (2020). 4 Ways to Improve and Increase Self-Efficacy. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/3-ways-build-self-efficacy/ 

Amanda Clear2Amanda Clear is a senior manager for Lincoln Learning Solutions and has been with the company for four years. The scope of her works includes promoting the integration of social and emotional learning and other educational movements into the Lincoln Empowered curriculum content. Amanda has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is currently working toward a Masters in Applied Psychology. She is married with two very active toddler boys. Amanda is a veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. She is merging her passion for veterans and mental health by serving as a volunteer ambassador for Mission 22.