It often seems that confidence is something that some lucky people are born with but, in fact, being confident is something that requires effort. Everyone, even those who seem to exude confidence, have moments when they feel less assured and it is worth remembering that not everyone is actually as confident as they look!
Far from being innate, confidence is a skill that we acquire through life experiences, and it is perfectly normal to experience the occasional dip in confidence levels from day to day. If, however, low self-esteem and lack of confidence is actually holding your child back from achieving the things they want out of life, it becomes a risk to their overall well-being.
The benefits of being confident
Children who have a high level of self-esteem and confidence are comfortable when they experience uncertainty in their life. In most situations, they will remain optimistic and confident even when they are unsure how things will turn out. Confidence allows them to know that they have the resources to deal with most situations and have the self-reliance to address stressful triggers in a positive and secure way.
A confident child feels more empowered, more in control and this is extremely beneficial both in social situations and in respect of academic learning. So what does it really mean to be confident? Well, it means that you are comfortable with the decisions you make, you are happy with your own personality, you accept your own limitations without feeling worried about these, and you are able to enjoy life despite the ups and downs that you are guaranteed to experience.
Has your child lost their confidence?
If your child struggles with their confidence in more than one situation, and on a regular basis, experience negative outcomes associated with an inability to deal effectively with life’s challenges this will start to affect all areas of their life. When they have a negative self-perception, it can lead to increased anxiety in unfamiliar or pressured situations, most likely affecting how they view themselves and their position in the world. Over time a continued lack of confidence can lead to:
Do you recognise any of these situations?
Scenario 1: Your child has been feeling low for some time, actually everything appears to an effort. Your child complains that their heart is beating faster, and they are finding excuses to avoid the school playground at break time. They feel they may as well just hang out on their own, and avoid the playground, they mention that the other kids seem so talented, and that they are being ignored. Your child has become convinced the other kids don’t want to speak to them, after all your child feels they have nothing important to contribute because they are so boring, stupid and no fun!! Do you see similar thoughts, behaviour and avoidance tactics from your child? Believe it or not, this is one of the most common areas where children report they are feeling a serious lack of confidence.
Scenario 2: Your child leaves school at the end of the day feeling exhausted and on edge, and this seems to get worse day by day. They are starting to have physical symptoms like headaches and tummy aches, and you notice they mention negative and ‘fast running’ thoughts. They just ‘know’ or believe that they lack the necessary skills, and they think they are not meeting expectations, they are sure they will be in trouble soon. They start to become solitary, exclude themselves socially, find it difficult to talk to others and feel that no one understands what they are going through.
Whatever situation your child is experiencing, if their self-esteem is low, it is time to re-build their confidence. I understand your child may feel worried about taking proactive steps, but I can assure you this is quite a common feeling, in particular for someone who has lived with low self-esteem for a long time. The important thing is that you can help your child increase their confidence levels through new experiences and therapeutic exercises. This process should include learning how to apply these newly taught tools to their situation and by changing the perception they hold about themselves. In this way, your child will become a confident and capable person, ready to deal with life’s challenges and changes.
Remember, confidence is never consistent at any point in anyone’s life, it is likely to fluctuate in situations that are stressful but this is completely normal and to be expected. However, by taking charge of thoughts and emotions, your child can start to appreciate their own abilities and worry less about external triggers.
As a parent you are not powerless to help your child directly and the following simple techniques can form the basis of a confidence building programme for your child:
1. Think fitness and health… Healthy body, healthy mind! Keeping your child active and healthy will help them to feel happy and confident.
2. Mind the inner talk… What your child ‘says’ when they talk to themselves is really important with regards to the way that they feel and just how confident they are. Encourage them to not be a bully towards themselves. Teach them to say things like ‘I would love to learn how to do that’ instead of saying ‘I can’t do it’.
3. Create a new image… A change in appearance can always help to boost your child’s confidence and make them feel great. A simple change to the way that they dress, act and look may prove beneficial when they interact with the world around them.
4. What is so good about them..? Ask your child to make a list of all of their good points. Are they a good listener, advice giver, hard worker or good friend? List all of their achievements – things that may have happened in school, social and family life.
5. Make new friends… Ask your child to take a look at their friends. Are they supportive? Does being around them make your child feel better or worse about themselves? Encourage your child to surround themselves with positive friends that bring out the best in them. Happiness and positive attitudes are contagious, so by surrounding themselves with happy friends they will feel more confident too.
Through parental guidance and a guided therapeutic approach, your child can be exposed to techniques that will infuse confidence into their life and they will benefit from:
Help your child by addressing their lack of confidence in a healthy, proactive, and engaging manner which means your child will be better equipped to deal with change and they will find life’s challenges less stressful. We are happy to guide you further on this path should you have any questions.
By Tina Elven