A lot has been written, and I suspect you’ve read a lot about improving the self-esteem and confidence of a student. It’s typically good advice, but I won’t repeat it here. When you compliment your children for effort or success, you are convincing them that their parents think they are good, or smart, or diligent. And that’s important. But it’s more important that the children, themselves, think they are good, smart or diligent. My Mom used to tell me I was smart. That certainly didn’t hurt anything. But it wasn’t until later, after I’d had a few successes in my young life, that I started to think that maybe I wasn’t that stupid after all.
I think you’ll agree that success creates self-confidence. But it’s a little more complicated than that. It has to be success at something that is important and perceived by the child as a challenge. If they have success at drinking a glass of milk, their self-image probably isn’t impacted. But if they are given a challenge that is within their grasp, and they succeed at it, they not only learn the lesson, but they learn they are capable. The lesson was effective and affective!
So what prevents them from always succeeding at challenges that are within their grasps? Very often it is fear of failure. Failure hurts. Failure diminishes their self-confidence. Trust me, they want to be self-confident. But fear often prevents them from making the effort required to succeed.
If you teach your children to understand their fears differently, you can give them the key to unlocking their self-confidence. Here are some tips for
- Fear is good! It’s a gift from God. Animals react to fear with a “fight or flight” decision. So do you. Use your brain, and make the right choice.
- Everyone experiences fear! Some just handle it better than others.
- It is always easier to face fear than to live with it.
- Create an Affirmation Mantra you say to yourself before taking on any challenge: “I can handle it!”; “I am brave!”.
- Do a positive thinking exercise: have the child hold their arm out horizontally, and while you try to push their arm back against their body, the child says “I am weak; I can’t hold my arm up.” Then do it again, but this time the child says “I am strong; I can hold my arm up.”
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