As parents, educators and other concerned adults, we all want children to grow up and be confident, courageous and successful.
Being confident is not a gift.
It’s not built into a child’s DNA.
Is not something that descends upon you, fully formed.
No one wakes up one morning and discovers they are suddenly (thank goodness, it’s about time!) confident.
No one takes a fast acting, time release confidence pill. (But wouldn’t it be nice if we could just feed our kids the newest latest confidence building diet?)
Confidence is actually a step by step learned process.
So how can we help children grow up to be confident adults?
Here are 5 ways to help kids develop a fearless mindset and become confident leaders in their own lives.
1. Recognize that it is a process, not an end result.
Being confident is a process with four steps. It doesn’t just happen and you never really arrive. Even adults who appear confident have times when they don’t feel that way. Help your child recognize that everyone struggles with confidence at one time or another but it is a well worn path and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
2. Recognize that the first step to being confident is commitment.
While most of us wait to feel confident before taking the first step, the first step is actually making a commitment or decision to actually step forward in the direction of the goal.
Want to play at the piano recital with confidence rather than shaking hands and knocking knees? First make the decision to prepare for the recital and be a participant.
Want to feel confident attending a new school and making new friends? First make a decision to spend the first day talking to another student.
Commit and stick with your decision.
3. Recognize that the 2nd step is courage…and it’s hard!
Courage means taking action and it is the most uncomfortable step of all. It means recognizing fear and moving forward anyway. Courage doesn’t mean an absence of fear. It means feeling the fear and taking action anyway.
4. Recognize and encourage your child’s abilities
Often we are not aware of our own abilities. We tend to think everyone else is more capable than we are. The third step is not only recognizing but encouraging your child’s talents, gifts and abilities.
Practice the piano in anticipation of the big day.
Role-play how to introduce yourself and talk with new people.
These are all ways we can not only prepare ourselves but increase the chance of success in those situations that create anxiety and fear.
5. Finally… the last step is confidence!
What is the end result of commitment, courage and recognizing our abilities? Confidence is a natural result. This doesn’t mean that confidence is here to stay in all situations. No doubt there will be other challenges. But each time we face a new challenge we can draw on what we learned through the process.
Here’s a great book to teach children about winning and losing…
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser. All his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach. How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future. Will he give up trying new things? Will he have the confidence to try again? Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others?
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)