Confidence is the ultimate life skill. It enables us to believe in ourselves, push boundaries, take risks, assert our needs, and enforce respect for our boundaries. Ultimately, it empowers us to reach our full potential without being wracked with self-doubt and insecurity.
According to Young Mind, ‘the pressures of modern life for children and young people are having a real impact on their self-esteem; social media, cyberbullying, bullying, body image, early sexualisation, academic expectations, student debt, family problems, etc are just some of the difficult things that young people are trying to grapple with.’ Now, more than ever, we need to support our children in believing in themselves and having the confidence to face life’s challenges. At Role Models, we run dynamic, interactive, and fun online and face to face courses, designed to teach and embed key life skills, such as confidence.
We all know people who ooze confidence. They seem to view their glass as half full and manage to embrace all of life’s ups and downs with a positive, ‘can do attitude’. We also all know people who are paralysed with insecurities. They have no understanding of their true potential and can often let opportunities pass them by, as they are too afraid to step outside of their comfort zones. You wouldn’t be alone in believing that confidence is something you are either born with or not, and to some degree, this is true. What many people are not aware of, however, is that confidence is a teachable skill. It is perhaps one of the most valuable life skills we can teach our children. At Role Models, we passionately believe that for children to reach their true potential, both academically and personally, they need to believe in themselves and have the confidence to reach their full potential.
According to the Children's Society, ‘It can be really tricky to tell if someone has healthy or low self-esteem just from how they act or what they do. Some people may come across as happy and confident but inside think they're not good enough and worry about lots of small details about their day.’ For this reason, teaching children to be confident grounds them in the understanding of what it means and how natural it is to sometimes experience self-doubt or failure.
As a parent, it can be incredibly painful to see your child lack confidence. Telling them to believe in themselves isn’t always enough to provide meaningful support. So, what can you do to build your child’s confidence? We have outlined 5 key steps you can take to support your child.
We are constantly told that children absorb everything they see, hear, and feel. This can put a huge amount of pressure on us, especially if we lack confidence in ourselves. Self-belief needs to be authentic, and therefore you can’t pretend to never experience self-doubt. However, you can try and approach new tasks with optimism, setting a good example to your children of how to focus on the potential to succeed, as opposed to the risk of failing. You can acknowledge your anxieties, but don’t focus on them and take care to positively model overcoming them and experiencing success.
Mistakes are inevitable. We all make mistakes. Help process these with your child. Celebrate mistakes as opportunities to learn. Model making mistakes and where appropriate find humour in them. The more we normalise making mistakes, the less likely your child is likely to become derailed by them. Perfectionism is a huge barrier to making achieving confidence, so take being ‘perfect’ off the agenda and normalise making mistakes.
It is very tempting to try and protect our children from failing. However, this just reinforces that failure is bad and that they in turn must try and avoid it. Confidence is about being able to take risks and fail. It’s how they respond to the failures that will determine their ability to succeed in life. True confidence isn’t about not making mistakes, it is about learning from them and moving forward. We must therefore give children the opportunity to fail. It is also important to model our own failures. Teach your children that we all experience failures in life and that it is not a reason to stop persevering.
Praise your child for their effort and perseverance. When we focus and celebrate the journey rather than the end result, we teach children that their ability to succeed is based on their ability to ‘have a go’ and persist. It takes dedication to develop new skills, and results aren’t always immediate. Let your child know you value the work they’re doing, whether they’re toddlers playing with puzzles or teenagers learning a new instrument. Celebrate your own efforts too. It is important to teach children that is it ok to feel proud of themselves.
This is not always an easy one, however, it is valuable when children find their passion. It could be anything from sports to cooking or even Lego. Support your child in finding something they are passionate about. We can’t all be good at everything, but when we find something, we are passionate about, we are driven to succeed and as a result, are more confident in our ability. Finding something we are passionate about is also a good outlet for stress and depression. It will give your child a sense of identity, which is very important when trying to build confidence.
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