Where does your child feel confident?
- Posted by:
- Michael Grose
As every parent knows, building confidence
in kids is one of the most important tasks they have.
When I taught in primary schools I was very aware of building an environment that was confidence-building, not confidence-sapping.
That's one of the reason that I used to love going on school camps.
One of the things I loved about camp was that I’d often find kids who struggled in school, would absolutely shine in a camp environment.
I remember Tania, a shy eight year-old who sat at the back of my Year three classroom, rarely making a squeak.
She became Tania the tiger on a four day camp. She was very loud, very assertive ( no, bossy), very helpful and very funny on camp! You could have knocked me down with a feather! It was as if a twin sister had replaced her!
But camp was her type of environment. She loved ORGANISING classmates in the dining room; she was at home HELPING in the camp kitchen and she showed NO FEAR playing adventure games outside with kids she hardly even knew!
Tania shone at camp, but struggled at school. Camp was confidence-boosting; school was confidence-sapping!
There was carry-over from camp to school as kids and teachers responded better to her, trying to reach that noisy kid within the classroom. But it was hard to recreate the outside environment, inside the classroom.
In a perfect world, we’d have multiplied the camp experiences for Tania, so we could’ve seen more of the tiger!
Unleashing the tiger in your child
I had a child who when young, struggled to shine.
School and sport, which were the staples of that child’s early life, always presented challenges. They got there, but not without struggle. Their confidence sagged as they struggled to so what what everyone else seemed to do so easily.
BUT Scouts was their thing. Once they discovered this they wanted to spend as much time there as possible. So my wife and I helped & encouraged them to become an active participant in the Scouting movement. It was the one place where they felt confident.
We then tried to transfer the feelings of confidence they experienced in Scouts to other areas of interest. (“You said you couldn’t build a flying fox yet you managed to follow the instructions easily. You were pretty stoked when you did it. I reckon you can do the same with that science project.”)
So if you have a child that often struggles in mainstream areas and activities, here’s your challenge:
1. Help them find the place or activity where they feel confident.
2. Help and encourage them to spend as much time there as schedules and interest will allow.
3. Look for ways to transfer that feeling of confidence to other places and activities.
As kids become older their world expands offering more opportunities to find their ‘thing.’
BUT I have a theory that they need to find their ‘thing’ before they reach fifteen as many teens narrow their options then, choosing the one or two activities (student, surfer, sportsperson, smart alec) that will help define their identities. Finger-crossed they’ll have some positive options to choose from!
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