The gift of confidence

Have you ever known or just watched some one move or do things with confidence it makes you a little bit sick? What makes some people more confident than others? What makes some kids more confident than others?

Are we just born with it? Or more to the point these days, do we derive it from the number of likes, shares or comments we get on facebook?

Sadly, some people think it’s the latter. Social media is creating a false confidence in individuals that comes crashing down when the instantaneous boost isn’t delivered. Searching for confidence extrinsically in other people, on facebook, twitter followers will only ever lead to self esteem issues.

Confidence and self esteem must come from within. And we must be teaching our children this. About a year ago I had a bit of a ‘oh crap’ moment when my then 6 year old asked me to take a photo of a lego creation and post it on facebook. Now I don’t post many of the ‘how good am I?’ or ‘this is what I ate last night’ on social media, but clearly he had picked up on this whole ‘let’s document every moment of our life and then tell everyone about it’ thing.

I then had to sit down with him and discuss what social media, like facebook, is and how it can cause big problems for people and sometimes make them really sad. A part of this explanation involved trying to explain what confidence is and where you get it.

Confidence is something that comes only from inside you. It is intrinsic. But is not born. Confidence is earned through effort. Like a child learning to walk. True confidence comes from trying something, giving it a go. It doesn’t come from the direct success of the effort. It comes from improvement. With anything new in life, it’s hard when you first try it, but if you don’t give up and keep trying you will get better at it. That small improvement can give a massive confidence boost. So you keep trying and you keep getting better and the cycle continues.

This is a particularly important lesson for children to learn. They should never give up on something if they don’t succeed first time around…or second, or third. If they keep trying they will eventually improve and they will have been given the gift of confidence. There is no doubt it can be hard seeing your child try again and again without improvement, but letting them give up can sometimes be the worst thing you can do for them and for their confidence, because it reinforces for them that they ‘aren’t good at it’.

This is an issue we see often in the martial arts and fitness industry. Children and adults alike often try things once and then give up because it was ‘too hard’ or ‘they aren’t fit enough’ or ‘other people are better’. This is where it is important to remember to measure yourself only by your own stick, and no one else’s. If you keep trying, keep training, keep sweating and keep pushing you will eventually notice an improvement in your own performance and greater confidence ensues.

So next time your child is feeling lacking in confidence, encourage them to keep trying. Better still, show them how its done. Model your behaviour and approach to confidence building on what your want your child to do. Give them the gift of confidence.