Do you believe in the phrase “If I believe it, I can achieve it”? This phrase though a bit cliched, cultivates immense power in your mind. You could also be very familiar with the famous words from the book The Little Engine that Could, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” These words capture a fundamental life attitude that all parents want their kids to have: If I try, I will succeed. For kids to be able to cope with adversity, to learn from failure, and work through difficult challenges they must have self-efficacy.

Defining Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief that you are capable of performing a task or taking control of a situation. It is the confidence in one’s ability to organize and carry out actions needed to produce desired results.

A quote often credited to Henry Ford says, “Whether you think that you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

Teachers can nurture children’s self-direction and sense of self-efficacy by giving them an opportunity to exercise some control over their own learning.

Self Efficacy Skills: EQ lesson at the Shelter Home


  • To teach the children how to overcome inner barriers, to have faith and trust in their capabilities by trying.


  • Recycled materials
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers/felt pens

Overview of the Activities

 In this activity, the kids are divided into 3 groups of 2 or 3 people.4 tasks are then listed on the whiteboard as below: 

  • Build a toy house
  • Create a board game
  • Compose a song
  • Build a robot

Each group is then asked to rate the tasks above based on how difficult it is to complete each task. The task that is rated as the most difficult is then assigned to the group that rated it highly.

At first, the kids often shy away from the tasks terming them as difficult. They display a pessimistic attitude and signs of low self-efficacy such as whining and saying they can’t do it because it is impossible for them to build something that they don’t know. They display a marked lack of drive and non-commitment.

However, my role as the teacher and facilitator is to keep encouraging them to try and letting them know that they need to trust themselves. Encouraging these kids is important as it motivates them and gives them better ability to think productively by making use of positive thinking skills when faced with a challenge in the course of working on their tasks. In addition, encouraging them makes them more resilient and this allows them to successfully execute and complete their tasks.

How does one acquire a strong sense of self-efficacy?

• Through the experience in overcoming obstacles through perseverant effort (most important).

• Through seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort

• Through strengthening one’s beliefs that one has what it takes to succeed

• Through reducing one’s stress reactions and altering one’s negative emotional tendencies. 

Ways of Enhancing Self-Efficacy in Children

1. Challenge negative thinking: Parents can help children to deal with distorted thinking and negative self-talk that undermines their belief in their capability to succeed in a task. This can be done by providing examples why the negative thought is inaccurate.

2. Help your child to set realistic and achievable goals: Helping children in brainstorming manageable ways of achieving a goal and encouraging them to remain focused and motivated helps them to experience greater hope and more success in achieving the goal.

3. Notice, analyze, and celebrate success: Children should be encouraged to keep journals of achievements. In that journal, they can record skills, talents, and strategies that they have successfully used to get positive outcomes.

4. Praise effort instead of capability: When a child is praised for the effort shown, and the techniques they use to achieve success, they learn skills of persistence, mastery, and achievement as compared to when you praise them for being intelligent.

5. Provide an opportunity for mastery experiences: When you give a child an opportunity to make decisions, use and practice his or her skills, and try different paths to achieve set out goals, you are helping that child to build self-efficacy. 6. Be honest and Realistic: When a child fails or has a setback, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. It is important to acknowledge the child’s struggle and then identify specific strengths he might use next time.

Parting Shot!! 

The purpose of this article was to elucidate the best practices for helping children build and enhance their self-efficacy. Feel free to share with us more strategies that parents and teachers can implement to help children expand their learning and develop the self-efficacy necessary to become confident, inquisitive and, life-long learners.

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