Is your child struggling with low self confidence?
As a tutor, the most common way I have helped children is in boosting confidence, not teaching content.
92% of my 125 students said the biggest barrier to their learning was low self confidence
From a student's perspective, low confidence clouds your mind whilst learning, keeps you silent in participation and creates unbearable nerves in any test environment; the belief will self perpetuate unless it is interrupted.
As a result of my experience in classrooms and with children in a learning environment, I thought it was worth sharing some of the feedback and lessons I have learnt being a passive bystander with children and their parents.
The role of parents
To put it plainly,
85% of students are more worried to tell a parent their grade than a teacher
The point I want to make here is that you as parents matter a great deal to a child's sense of worth.
With a lot of my students, increasing their confidence at home made it so much easier for them to face failure, criticism and nerves elsewhere. If you can support your child behind the scenes with a really solid foundation, they will be set to face the world.
Promoting confidence at home
Here are the top three changes you can make at home to support your child's self assurance.
Be there - practice 'the first 5 minutes'
There is no substitute for your time and attention. I cannot stress enough how much it means for a child that you are there when they are home from school and take an interest in their day. If you struggle to be on form every evening and weekend, make sure you get the first interaction in the morning or when you come in from work right. My dad once told me that just before coming in from work, he knew that if he got the first 5 minutes right with me and my brother, we'd know how important we were to him and he could have some rest time afterwards. I remember my childhood vividly and I picture it as a family unit.
Value their opinions - they are learning
Yes we've all heard the child on the train asking their parent over and over again 'where are we going?', 'are we there yet?', 'where are we now?'. Most parents I overhear have more patience than Mother Theresa but the reason they do is because they know their child is learning. Their child is getting involved in conversation and whilst that seems easy to us as adults, we all had to learn it - how to continue a conversation without repetition, silences or too much effort. Even now we sometimes find it hard! My message here is when your child, no matter how old has an opinion, value it as a small step in their learning process. Never laugh at an idea, dismiss a suggestion or rebuke them for an error in judgement.
Create an atmosphere where mistakes are entirely ok if learned from
Give the freedom to fail. If you read my most recent article, you will see I believe it is difficult to improve on something without first stepping outside your comfort zone. Your child will struggle to be in a position to advance if they are worried about failure. The more difficult the advancement, the bigger boost it has on a child's confidence so you need to allow for big failures. What you can do is step in when these mistakes are not learned from. This is one of the most powerful changes you can make to promote self confidence.
Give these a go and see if you notice a difference in your child at home and at school. Bear in mind also that when it comes to your child, you know them best; the greatest thing you can do is be a non-judgemental friend and rock when they need it.