Self-Efficacy in your Children

“You got this,” Self-Efficacy in your Children

Sometimes psychology terms get confusing for me.  Here are three that are on my mind:

Self-confidence:  One’s own sense of self-worth

Resilience:  the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change (Webster Dictionary)

Self-Efficacy:  the belief in my ability to succeed in achieving a goal. (Albert Bandura, a Canadian-American psychologist and professor at Stanford University, 1977).

One of the challenges we have as parents is trying to raise our sons and daughters to become successful kids who can later become productive members of society.  Not caring enough or not getting involved and we have kids who sail without direction, lost and without purpose.  Too much involvement and we behave like helicopter parents, setting them up for anxiety and depression later on.  Where is the middle, we may ask?

What is Self-Efficacy?

As noted above, in self-efficacy, we develop the belief that we can achieve anything.  We have the confidence to know that we can do whatever we set our mind to.  We do this by managing how we think (we control our thoughts and learn how to become optimists), how we feel (we control our emotions and better yet, realize we have the power to manage our emotions) and how we behave (we control our actions).

The Main Ingredients for Self-Efficacy

  • Bandura believes there are four main sources that influence the development of self-efficacy:
  • Mastery of Experiences, one’s previous experiences, particularly success. In essence, success breeds success.
  • Vicarious experiences, where seeing others succeed helps us develop the confidence and visualization that we too can succeed.
  • Social Persuasion, where coaching and getting feedback by others helps us develop the skills necessary for success.
  • Emotional, physical, and psychological well-being can influence our feel about our personal abilities. Eating well, exercising, getting a good night sleep can affect our beliefs in ourselves.

Suggestions for Self-Efficacy

Here are a few suggestions to help your child develop self-efficacy:

  • Set goals
  • Have them do things they like to do
  • Have them try new things and face the challenges
  • Teach them to accept failures and criticism in a positive light
  • Reframe obstacles with positive interventions
  • Approach goals slowly and don’t let them get over-stressed about the ultimate results.

Interesting enough, self-efficacy helps with the development of self-confidence and resilience.


Bandura, Albert (1997). Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: Freeman. p. 604. ISBN 978-0-7167-2626-5.

Lopez-Garrido, G.  August 2020.

Mamie Morrow, Why Self-Efficacy Matters, TEDx Talk, May 29, 2019

Jessica Lahey, How to Lower Your Child’s Risk for Addiction, The New York Times, March 31, 2021.

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