Growing up, confidence can feel like something you are born with. However, there are ways in which parents can help their children build confidence, writes Sheina Wright, Embley’s Head of Prep.
A couple of years ago I was on a school residential with a group of Year 8 pupils at a water sports activity centre. There were all manner of water related activities to choose from. I had made a surprise visit for the day from school and had not planned on joining them in their activities, but to surprise them. As I merrily, glided around the water on the safety boat, the plan was to stop and chat to as many of them as possible while they windsurfed or sailed their Hobie Cats. Then one of the girls called out: “Come and join us, remember your growth mindset Miss Wright, mistake making is part of learning!” So despite being inappropriately dressed I joined the team on the Hobie Cat and loved every moment. I was a little soggy on the train home, but ‘giving it a go’ made me happy and built my confidence and also reminded me to live by the values I endorse at school.
It can be hard to know where to start when helping young people gain and then build confidence. There are some key learning points which I think make a real difference:
If you don’t try you’ll never know
Give things a go and grasping opportunity are two key pieces of my advice to young people. If there is something new to try and you’re toying with the idea, just give it a go: what is the worst that can happen?!
Hard work and preparation
When you have had a go at something and you like it….what next? Don’t be afraid to tell your child that being good at something doesn’t just happen: it takes hard work and preparation. Matthew Syed’s book ‘Bounce’ is a great example of this and he has written some great confidence building books for children too.
Talk and question
Nurture your child’s ability to have an initial and developed opinion at home. Then challenge that opinion: is it informed? Philosophical conversations can and should happen from a young age, which is something we promote through our Philosophy for Children curriculum at Embley.
Pursue interests that may not be everyone’s cup of tea or might be community based. Meeting new people and being in different contexts can really help develop confidence and social skills, whether that be the local hockey club or Scouts.
In a world where children have had limited opportunities to be with their peers and try new things over the last year, I for one cannot wait for a world of confidence building opportunities to be available for our young people once again.