Saturday, March 12, 2011

Children's Confidence


During the 14 years that I have spent with students of different nationalities and backgrounds, I have come to realize that the one thing that would drive them to do anything or nothing at all is their level of confidence. As a Special Needs teacher, the first aspect of children that I observe and deal with is their confidence. I aim to build a rapport with them first, get them to trust me before I tackle their feelings, self-image and view of their abilities.

We must all understand that ANY child can learn as long as they BELIEVE they can do it. If their self-confidence was high then they will be motivated to overcome any obstacle they face no matter how difficult it may be. They would not stop at anything if they set their minds to it and have the confidence to face it. This is something I strongly believe in and have seen evidence to prove it.

I have a student who joined the school this year and who came with such a poor attitude towards himself, his abilities and his learning. He thought that he could not do anything because he had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). At first, I did not understand why he was adamant on using his special issue as an excuse to not do homework or put in an effort in his classes. I had a word with him on the staircase of the school's fire exit... away from all the other students' prying eyes.

He informed me that he was told by the hospital people who diagnosed him and his mother that he cannot do much because he was ADHD. Every time he was unable to do something, they would tell him that it was ok since it was probably because he was ADHD.

It blew me away… I told him that I totally disagreed with that…that my university professor had ADHD which he could not believe. I told him that he could be anything he wanted to be as long as he set his mind to it and believed in himself.... this went on for weeks... it takes time for  a student to shed the beliefs that were implanted in him be it because of his experiences or what he was told.

I quickly realized then that I had to pass that message on to his parents... they must be brought into the circle as we are a team and should work together.... when I did and encouraged the mother to praise her child and tell him that he could do it... my student's attitude flipped over the weekend and he came back to school on a Monday a changed individual. He is a success story and I am very proud of him, his abilities and his achievements.

Unsure of where to start and what to do? Here are a few tips to start you off on your journey to increasing your child's/student's self confidence...

1. Give specific sincere praise to your children or students... 'Well done!' Does not really cut it... you need to find something about the work/drawing/performance that they did.... something like "I like how you write your 'a'!" "I like the way you painted that fish and chose your colors!". "I like the way you organized your essay and made a big effort to improve your presentation." "I am impressed by the way you pushed your legs and yourself to win that race."

2. Encourage your children or students by praising the effort they have put in... you can also reward their efforts... I truly believe that the effort is more important than the grade... before the grades come rolling in, they need to build their motivation, skills and attitudes.... and they need confidence to be able to improve them.

3. Listen to them... pay attention to them... give them eye contact... ask them questions to show them that you are involved... show them that their views, opinions and questions are important and valued.

4. Nurture their independence... do not spoon feed them too much... do not be over protective... they need to rely on themselves... wouldn't they have to when they are older? You can show them how to do a task...and then let them try it on their own... make sure to tell them that it is ok to make mistakes... and that they will learn from these mistakes... my favorite quote of ALL time is, "Do not be afraid of failure, for it is the stepping stone to success."

5. Focus on your confidence... you need to show them that you are a confident person... it would be much more effective to teach them to be confident if they saw YOU as a confident person.

Remember to care about and treat them as individuals 
not just as your children or students. 

Here are some websites to check out:



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