Building Self Confidence
Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
What do you think the most common problem is when a new child walks into my center? ADHD? Autism? Reading struggles? If you guessed any of these answers, I’m sorry to say, but you are wrong. Let me share a story with you.
One boy would often have these far off glances, almost like he couldn’t hear you or was in a whole other world. You could tell he was struggling, but there was a lot more going on with him than just academics. He would hang his head and always appeared to be sad or “invisible.” He was not the only one. Another boy started saying things like “I’m so stupid. I can’t do anything right.” One mom came to me and said how much her daughter was retreating within herself and didn’t want to go to school anymore, which was unusual because she was a very social child.
Kids these days notice when they are different or aren’t “measuring up” to their friends and classmates at younger and younger ages. Even as young as a Kindergartener, which is mind boggling to me. So what is the most common problem I see at my center? Hands down, a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Some students are so heavily weighed down with how much they are not succeeding in school that it affects how they are succeeding. That is why, you not only have to correct the learning “problem,” but you have to help fix and build their self-confidence to show them they can do whatever they set their mind to in school. You have to show them their true potential.
At home, we can be our child’s biggest cheerleader and provide them with the motivation they need, however, we must prepare them for the outside world and all the positive and negative experiences they will encounter at school and with friends. The world can be cruel sometimes and that is why if they have a strong support system at home where they can feel that self-confidence and accomplishment, they will be better prepared for the world around them.
So what happened the student that was “invisible?” After a few months of intervention, his parents started noticing changes. He started talking and interacting with his peers. He now bounces a ball (which he couldn’t do in the beginning) and he reads! His parents never thought it would happen. It might be a small accomplishment to you, but for him it made all the difference in his demeanor, self-confidence and academic success. He had developed enough confidence to introduce himself to a complete stranger. This was clearly not the same child that I first met.
The truth is, so many kids are “miracles,” but it couldn’t have been done with out the intervention and dedication of parents at home. They are truly the support system behind their child. Like a muscle, your child’s learning capacity or self-confidence is only as good as how much you exercise it.
On any given day, your child may experience a lack of self-confidence in his or her abilities. However, if you see it as a reoccurring issue, try some of these steps at home to help them recognize their value and self-worth.
Fill in the Blank
If your child is being especially hard on themself one day, try this easy and fun exercise to help build them up. Ask them a series of questions and have them fill in the blanks.
- I am most creative when…
- I can show others my imagination by…
- I am really good at…
- My last really good idea was…
- One thing I do differently from everyone else is…
- I can help others by…
- The thing I like most about myself is…
- Other people like me because…
- I wish people would understand that…
- I wish I could show people…
Depending on the answers to their questions, you can take what they say and use it for future activities to build their self-esteem. For instance, if they like to cook and it makes them feel better, help them cook dinner for their grandparents and honor them for the wonderful meal they made. Or, maybe have them put on a violin concert for the family if they are instrumental. Find what is important to them and focus on their strengths.
Now why wouldn’t I praise my child? Doesn’t praise help build their self-confidence? Praising your child, especially when they do something good or right is very important and should happen daily. However, if we over-praise too much, we are actually creating more harm than good. Telling your child they are doing a fantastic job sometimes sends the message that he or she no longer needs to push themselves.
Part of building confidence is when children fail and learn to pick themselves back up with practice to perfect the skill or subject they are learning. Give praise when needed, but also provide them with motivation and constructive criticism when you feel they need to work a little harder or are capable of doing more. As long as this is done in a positive way, children should develop greater self-confidence and understand with hard work anything can be accomplished. The motto for every child should be, “We can do hard things.”
This one may be challenging for parents because what interests parents not always interests their child. For instance, my son loves Star Wars and Karate, but you will never see me trying to karate chop a board or see me holding a light saber. Having said that, he is very creative and has an incredible mind for detail and memory. In fact, he was in the 98th percentile for comprehension. My comprehension was nowhere near that level when I was his same age in elementary. Watch out as I strut my proud momma feathers. So what did I do as a mom? Well, we started reading all kinds of books together, some that I did and didn’t understand because of the fantasy aspect, but I found what he was passionate about and used it to create learning opportunities.
Remember, it is important for us to not try and force our interests on our kids. Because my son liked karate and showed a passion for it, I didn’t try to push volleyball on him because I liked that sport better. Also, when you set goals for them, make sure they follow through. Help them reach certain levels in art or at soccer practice. Show them that what they love still comes with hard work.
Help your child know that when they make mistakes or do something wrong that you recognize their action was bad, but you still love them unconditionally. It’s so easy to get mad or upset because they hit their friend at school or they forgot to tell you they were going to a friend’s house and made you sick with worry, but showing them you love them regardless of the things they do wrong helps restore their confidence, and in some cases it creates a bond between you both. It may give them the confidence as they get older to be more open with you about their emotions and share more about difficult problems they face as they become adults.
Famous Role Models
Help your child find good positive role models to relate to that are famous, but may have encountered some of the same hardships as your child. You would never know that Jennifer Anniston has dyslexia or that Daniel Radcliffe has dyspraxia. Both seem perfectly normal and very successful, yet they struggled in school and with self-confidence just like you and I. These types of role models can provide inspiration and hope for your child when they struggle with self-esteem.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs