Quite often, parents come to us asking for help in building their child’s confidence. For kids, finding self-confidence or courage might be about being able to put your hand up in class, share your ideas in a group, or try a new activity. Improved confidence allows children to make friends more easily, interact with teachers well and flourish at school. It also empowers them to want to make a difference in their world and add value to their community while opening doors to greater opportunities in life.
Firstly, what is confidence? These Speak Up kids explain what confidence means to them.
But how do we build confidence in our kids? Here are a few things we think you could try at home.
1. Tell them it’s ok to make mistakes
Our students get used to making mistakes in class and we hope that this translates when they are up on stage as well. Nothing bad is going to happen if they twist their words up a little. They are having a go at something new, and that is brave.
Making mistakes helps us learn. Try to show them that the learning is in the process and not in the result at the end. The act of getting up on stage could be their goal, rather than remembering all their lines. This process makes us braver next time.
2. Tell them you know how brave they are
When kids are hesitant to get up on stage, or feel worried that they aren’t ready, we can often see that they are as prepared as they will ever be. Sometimes a little “You’ll be fine” or “Yes you can” is enough for them to believe in themselves for just long enough to complete the task they are finding daunting.
3. Share your experiences
Talk to them about a time when you felt nervous or scared, explain what you did to find courage. Tell them how it went, and what was the good that came out of it. It shouldn’t be about telling them how strong and brave you are, rather share your vulnerabilities and doubts you had in yourself.
4. Encourage them to share their ideas in discussions at home
Show them how it’s ok to share their ideas and challenge the ideas of others, if it’s done in a respectful way. Encourage discussions at home where they might voice a different opinion to yours. The world would be a boring place if we didn’t express our creative thoughts with others and ask questions.
5. Let them know it’s ok to be different
The secret to building confidence is to embrace what makes us different, and to share it with the world. Our world teaches children to compare themselves to others, to try to fit in no matter what, and that different, is wrong. If we want to plant seeds of courage, self-esteem and confidence we must celebrate what makes us different and special.
In Speech and Drama classes there are many aspects that go into helping children build their confidence, for example drama games and improvisation are fun activities that allow students to stand up in class and present themselves without the pressure and hype of a “performance.” It’s important for us to provide a safe environment for students to challenge themselves without feeling embarrassed or afraid of making a mistake. When students work in an inclusive environment, they begin to feel comfortable taking risks and expressing their creativity. They also develop their creative problem solving skills, learn to think on their feet, empathise with others and learn what it takes to succeed when working in groups.
One of the most important tools in developing confidence is working on our communication skills, if children feel they can communicate well and get their message across, then they will be more confident in putting their ideas forward. More about that coming up!