Sunday, April 15, 2012


Photo from Taming of the Shrew

If there is one thing I want my students to develop while in my care, it is confidence.  The confidence I want for them includes the following ideas:

I want students to be confident enough
To try something new.
To speak to anyone, one on one or in front of a group.
To question authority.
To fail and then keep trying.
To look foolish from time to time.
To get what they want.
To help someone
To speak up for what is right.

Children develop confidence differently.  Some seem to have it from the womb, others slowly evolve.
A parent or a teacher's part in developing confidence should include the following:

Be a cheerleader - When a child wishes to try something, make it happen.  I tried out for every play in high school.  My parents always supported that idea even though I did not get a part until my senior year.  I know my mom felt the disappointment when I did not get cast in a play more than I did, but she continued to support and encourage me.

Let children do it themselves - Helping children with projects and school assignments means supplying the materials and space to work.  Talking about your child's ideas for the project.  Making suggestions and then letting them do the work themselves. 

Constructive criticism - I hated to hear any criticism at all.  I would get embarrassed and feel ashamed about what I was doing.  This is a tricky area.  I have seen children shut down when the teacher or parent offers suggestions.  What I have learned to do is to ask the child to explain what he was trying to accomplish and then ask if it would be ok if you showed them another way to do it that would make their idea more clear.  Always ask if it is ok to suggest something before you do, this gives the child ownership of the conversation.

Listen to your child with interest and enthusiasm - if your child believes that you think everything they have to say is important when they are young, they will continue to tell you things as they get older. Children become better communicators when they know someone is listening to them. This is just good advice.

Let your child fail from time to time -  Children should not be afraid to fail.  Everyone has moments when they do not achieve their goals.  Those of us who rethink our goals, adjust our attempts, and keep working towards the things we wish to achieve are the ones who succeed.  Those who give up never get there.

Genuine praise - Saying things like, "Good job" and "Nice work"  does NOT offer genuine praise.  Praise should be specific and include details.  Saying something in a positive manner such as  I like the colors you chose, what made you think of using these colors." or "The plot of your story is interesting, tell me more about it.", involve the child in the praise and help them think too!

Remember, confidence does not come from continued success, it comes from being secure in who you are.  So helping your child learn to think for himself and communicate authentically is the best way to raise a confident child.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, this is amazing Debbie!, as a little girl myself I had lots of confidence issues, your article made me realize a lot of things my parents unfortunately do wrong and I don't want to repeat with my son. To listen and be "mind present" when your child tell you something, is essential, my parents totally were there but not PRESENT, and I am the proof that eventually you loose interest for telling what is in your mind and heart, I can tell you that my mom put me in a very good private school, gave me lots of nice things, we are not rich but she do an effort for the family that I appreciate, but I grew up feeling in my heart anxiety and lots of other not so nice things which affected my confidence and self image for years. Now that I have a son, those feelings began to emerge again and I began to remember, and feel myself bad for that little girl I used to be, for example my mom did not even know what my favorite color is not then, not know, and I don't want to repeat patterns with my son, I am sure she did not act on purpose but she also did not realize that I am a sensible person, I have read that you are a "late bloomer", and so I am, but she did not support me and understands, she feels more like disapointed about me, we are totally different and is very hard for both, is even more hard because we live together, I am a single mom, and now I am here trying to learn how to be a good Mom for my Boy, and your articles and experience are so helpful for me. Thank you so much! ****Sorry about my english is not my first language ;) . xoxo Yazmin.