First things first, what is confidence?
Confidence is a mindset. It’s about looking at every situation as an opportunity to learn and improve. It’s about knowing that you’ve “got this,” but not feeling downhearted or discouraged if you don’t.
Dr Samuels says confidence is necessary for growth. “If you feel confident, you’ll be able to overcome setbacks and learn from your mistakes. You may receive negative feedback, but you’ll see it as an opportunity to get better,” she says.
Confidence is directly linked to academic performance, so it’s important to make sure your child is full of it – in a good way. Here’s how:
Kids pick up a confident mindset from their parents, so it’s important to bite your negative-Nancy tongue and be a good role model. Dr Samuels says it’s time to stop with the negative self-talk. “Parents saying ‘I can’t do something’ or ‘I’m not good at something’ in front of their children can be very damaging. They have to be aware of the impact that modelling will have on their children,” she says. Simply put, if you want your child to be confident, be confident.
Encourage risk taking
When we think about risk, it’s easy to jump to a negative place. We’re not saying your child should bring back the planking trend, we’re talking about the healthy kind of risks that help them grow. “Encouraging your kids to be adventurous and give things a go is the only way they’ll build new skills,” Dr Samuels says. As well as instilling confidence, risk-taking helps kids develop independent thinking, motor skills and perception and helps parents identify areas where their child may need extra guidance or support.
Don’t solve their problems
It’s in our nature to want to protect our children from failure, but intervening won’t do them any favours in the confidence department. Dr Samuels says kids need to understand that failure – and the emotions that come with it – are normal. “It’s ok to help them through the process of problem solving, rather than coming in as the knight in shining armour and solving it for them,” she says. They’ll probably struggle, maybe even fail, but they’ll always learn.
Get outside learning support
There is a real value in adults – beyond parents and teachers – providing kids with the encouragement and support they need to grow. Dr Samuels says that when it comes to learning, it’s the partnership and allegiance that kids have with their tutor that really builds their confidence. “We know that children are often too nervous to put their hand up in class to admit they don’t know something in front of their peers,” she says. It’s important to find a safe space where kids feel comfortable to ask questions or admit they don’t know something without being judged.