Let Their Confidence Shine

I’m a big fan of encouraging and helping children, so when I saw that Clever Girls were running a series on ways to encourage healthy habits in children, I leapt at the chance to take part!  I think instilling confidence and self esteem in little people is so important, and so here are some tips and tricks which I’ve used in the past with my students which you may find useful.  I hope you enjoy this post!

I’ve broken this post down into five areas, and given a few practical ideas for each area too!  While I don’t have children of my own I’ve worked with kids for years and am a very happy teacher of a class of boys at the moment.  I hope you find these tips useful!

1.  Listen.

In order for kids to have great confidence and be able to stick up for themselves, we have to listen.  When children feel heard they are going to feel more valued, and this is absolutely vital when it comes to self esteem!  Taking the time to hear what children have to say is such a crucial thing.

How I do this….I have breaktime catch ups with a pair or a trio of students every couple of days.  I find that this smaller forum gives them more time and more of a ‘voice’ to talk to me about things.  I have a ‘thoughts box’ in my classroom where the boys can write down anything they wish to communicate, anonymously or otherwise.  Some of my students will even email me a worry – I think the medium is not the important thing, it’s ensuring that the child feels heard.

2. Verbalise.

A great way of building self-esteem is to tell children how well they are doing, how special they are, what great progress they are making.  However, the absolute top tip I can give here is to be specific.  Pinpoint things that are praise worthy and point these out to your child or your students.  Telling a kid he or she is great is one thing….backing it up with supporting examples makes it all the more tangible and weighty!

How I do this....I love to reward my boys with notes and surprises.  I always let them know when they are hitting targets or when they are impressing me.  I take the time to notice when they make an effort.  I’d say I give out nine pieces of praise to each piece of correction, and this ratio really seems to help the boys to achieve and feel happy and nurtured too.  I also try to use positive, supportive language – kids are really moved by the words they hear!

3. Play.

Spend time with your child.  As powerful as telling your child that they are special can be, actually investing quality time in them will bear real fruit.  Play board games, make things together, take the dog for a walk…. This also meshes well with point 1 – I’ve lost count of the situations I’ve been able to assist with because worries have come to the fore over a game of UNO or snap.  I have found that boys in particular are often far more open and verbal when you are doing something alongside them, rather than questioning in front of them.

How I do this….taking time to play games with my students.  Trying to understand the things that they enjoy.  Letting the boys teach me a thing or two!

4. Understand.

As vital as self-confidence is, it’s something we all acquire at different times, in wildly different ways.  If your child is shy, or less verbal, or a bit of a drama queen, find ways to understand their reactions and behaviours, to praise the good and modify the less helpful.  Also be aware that certain elements are pure character – it would be wrong if we all craved the spotlight or if we all expected to be top of the tree all the time.  Life is about achieving our goals, but learning to lose and to find our own comfort level is a really big part of that!  Teaching children how to lose gracefully, how to win with style and kindness, and how to be happy when their friends achieve are all great ways to teach real, tangible, healthy self-confidence.

How I do this…..modelling good behaviours (for example, I never trash talk other grown ups in front of my kids, and I try to build up other grown ups in front of them in the way I talk about them).  Getting to know the boys and understanding their natures. Being open and available to listen.

5. Encourage.

This is really the encapsulation of all the other points.  For me, building self-esteem and confidence is all about investing time and energy not just in ensuring our children know how wonderful and precious they are, but also that they can appreciate the value and goodness in others.  So much of this modern world would have us focus on the peripheral and transient (looks, money, being ‘cool’), but true self-confidence comes from knowing who you are and knowing what you bring to the table.  While thise transient things may be part of the package we are often so much more (kind, bright, helpful, creative….).

How I do this…..I tell the boys how well they are doing (part of point 2).  I have the boys tell each other when they’ve done well.  Teaching about examples of people who embody self-confidence alongside other skills I want to encourage and highlight (recent examples include Gandhi, Marie Curie and Louisa May Alcott).

Do you have any tips for encouraging self-esteem and building confidence?  I’d love to hear how you do this with your family or your students!

As a member of Clever Girls
Collective, I was selected to participate in the Healthy Habits program
sponsored by Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive. The content and
opinions expressed here are all my own. #healthyhabits #cgc

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  1. Riot Kitty
    24th July 2012 / 3:33 am

    That is why you are such a great teacher! They are so lucky to have you, Miss Thornley Badger.

    • Claire
      2nd August 2012 / 6:07 pm

      Thanks, honey. Love working with my wee folk!

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