Confidence is about having self-assurance in your abilities and qualities. It’s not about being the loudest or the pushiest. And it’s not so much about having an attitude. Instead, it’s about taking action and continuing to believe in yourself even if failure is a result of taking that action.
Confidence is also situation specific. That’s why your daughter might feel super confident in math class, but not so much on the playground. Or why your son is a confident leader on the soccer field, but never raises his hand during class discussions.
Confidence is more than just have a belief in your abilities. It’s also about problem solving, knowing what to do when you make a mistake, and making decisions.
WHY IS CONFIDENCE SO IMPORTANT?
Bullies tend to target kids who aren’t confident or assertive. They are looking for someone who will react emotionally.
In her book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, Barbara Coloroso suggests that bullying is not about anger, instead it stems from intolerance towards differences.
Your child gains an extra layer of protection if they are confident in their abilities and in who they are. This way it is easier to shrug off a bully’s verbal attack, makes light of it or simply show no emotional reaction.
OKAY, SO HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD?
Knowledge is Power. Help your child understand their hearing loss. You don’t need to get super technical about everything, but going over your child’s audiogram, showing him the speech banana, and helping him put a label on the kind, and degree, of hearing loss he has can all go towards building confidence in his abilities.
Assertiveness vs Aggression. One of the best ways of building your child’s self-confidence is to help her be assertive. Assertiveness is different than being aggressive. Aggression is trying to force someone to think like you, or play with you.
Healthy assertiveness is when your daughter is able to stand up for herself and what she believes in, while still being respectful of other people’s differences and ideas. Assertive kids also have the strength to defend themselves when they feel threatened by others. Building confidence requires vulnerability, risk, trust, and faith that you will be okay. (Ward, 2013).
Rise to the challenge. Everyone deals with challenges much better when they have thought about them and prepared for them in advance. If your child continues to respond to situations by reflex instead of thinking situations through before reacting, he will become lost in the emotions of the moment. So by helping your son anticipate and prepare for challenging situations, you’ll help him learn how to handle himself when these situations come along.
Accept your child for who they are. Children who feel accepted for their choices and their preferences at home have more confidence when they step out into the world. Feeling accepted for who you are is an extremely powerful feeling and can help your child feel grounded as an individual.
Your child is telling you who she is through the choices she makes, the activities she prefers, and the clothes she wears. When you constantly bother your daughter for not wearing dresses, or continue to sign your son up for sports programs when he has clearly told you that he would rather take an art class, you deny your child the reassurance they need that they are okay no matter what they like to do, or how they dress. This can be particularly important when you have a child with special needs that really causes you to redefine what “normal” is.
What’s the problem? While it is important for your child to develop a sense of independence, it is also important for him to have the confidence to go to others when he needs help.
As adults our days are often revolve around trying to figure out who we can go to for help. If there is a leaky pipe in our house we know to call the plumber, if we are stuck late at work we know we can try to find a neighbor or a relative to help with child care. Our children need to develop the same type of support network for the areas of their lives they need help with.
Many children feel they have to be responsible for everything themselves, which can lead to stress and a feeling of not being able to do things on their own. I had an experience like this with my son when he was in first grade. He was having trouble getting his basic addition and subtraction facts down. He didn’t want to say anything to the teacher because he thought she would be mad at him for not knowing. I told him that helping kids who didn’t understand things was an important part of her job and that if he ever didn’t understand anything he should talk to her.
You can introduce this concept to your child at a young age. Ask him who he could go to if he needed help with homework; or if he needed help with some problems he’s having in the lunchroom or on the playground at school; or if he were having some problems with some kids in the library when he was trying to study.
This way he will begin to learn there are other children and adults there to help him with what he needs, and that there is an inter-dependency in his community.
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Ward, D. (2013). Keep the Bullies at Bay by Building Your Confidence.
Photo Credit: Rolands Lakis