Psychologist Shares The One Skill Kids Need To Have A Shot At Success

Helping kids build on this internal mechanism sets them up for success.

parents teaching kid to ride a bike Agung Pandit Wiguna / Pexels 

Dr. Aliza Pressman has 20 years of experience as a developmental psychologist, with a focus on parenting. She recently discussed how parents can raise their children to believe in themselves, which she believes comes down to one thing we often overlook.

The psychologist shared the one skill parents need to teach their kids for them to be successful.

Dr. Pressman tells parents to teach their kids self-efficacy, which the American Psychological Association defines as “an individual’s subjective perception of their capability to perform in a given setting.”


In simple terms, self-efficacy is someone’s belief in their ability to achieve something.

The concept of self-efficacy was developed by psychologist Albert Bandura, who believed that a person’s sense of self-efficacy creates their foundational beliefs around motivation, well-being, and accomplishment. Bandura maintained that there are 4 pillars of self-efficacy: Mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and emotional states.



Speaking to mastery experiences, Bandura believed them to be “the most influential source of efficacy information because they provide the most authentic evidence of whether one can muster whatever it takes to succeed. Success builds a robust belief in one’s personal efficacy.”


Parents can encourage their kids’ sense of mastery by urging them to try new challenges when they’re developmentally ready to do so. Practicing new skills and learning new things builds kids’ sense of confidence and promotes healthy growth in their self-worth.

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Having a strong sense of self-efficacy contributes to kids’ resilience and their overall sense of self. 

Vicarious experiences are provided by social role models. There’s inherent value in modeling to kids that they’re strong and capable of achieving their goals. When they see other people from similar backgrounds succeeding at hard tasks, they internalize the mindset that they, too, can do hard things. 

Psychologist Shares The One Skill Parents Need To Teach Their Kids To Give Them A Shot At SuccessPhoto: Greta Hoffman / Pexels 


Social persuasion essentially means providing your child with positive feedback when they succeed, and constructive, kind critique on their growth points when they don’t.

Learning how to manage anxiety and maintain a stabilized mood also contributes to kids’ self-efficacy, as feeling calm in their bodies can help them achieve the tasks in front of them. To help kids build up their self-efficacy, parents can urge them to participate in new activities. Providing them with positive, focused feedback also helps build their self-efficacy. 



While it might seem as though self-confidence and self-efficacy are one and the same, as Dr. Pressman notes, inner efficacy lets someone know that they have the internal resources to figure things out and get their goals met.


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Psychologist Shares The One Skill Parents Need To Teach Their Kids To Give Them A Shot At SuccessPhoto: Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels 

As hard of a pill as it might be to swallow, parents can’t always smooth the pathways that their kids are on. While it might seem instinctual to want to make life easy for kids, removing roadblocks contributes to lower self-efficacy, as kids learn to not believe in their own abilities. 


Kids with strong senses of self-efficacy can take on the challenges ahead of them, knowing they have the internal resources to be successful. Trying new things means we're bound to fail, at least once, at least sometimes, in our lives. Teaching kids self-efficacy sets them up for success, because it teaches them to believe in themselves and know their own worth.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.