and how you can help your child develop it!
It's like a cloak of invincibility. So much like most super heroes, they will have their own cloak, to fend off bullets, an impregnable shield or an impenetrable skin!!
Impossible right? Absolutely not.
We don’t actually mean they’re going to be super heroes, but we can certainly make them feel like one. And that is definitely what we all want.
Confident kids, that grow up unafraid of walking into a room, unafraid of talking to new people, unafraid in exams. No wasting energy where it’s not needed, just confident to get on with life.
I’ve been teaching kids of all ages for about 15 years and I want to share with you our little secret to helping kids gain in confidence.
Now don’t think yeah yeah, what does he know. He was probably privileged as a kid, thinks he knows everything because he had a nanny. Absolutely not.
I had a tough upbringing. Lived on a council estate, my parents worked all hours to pay the bills and didn’t spare the slipper. I have an older brother, who liked to take out his frustrations on his younger brother and I know that I am on the low end of the Autism spectrum. Basically if things don’t line up in my head, they don’t make sense.
So if something is said and its not 100% right in my head, I will say out loud what appears to be a correction (its actually a clarification) and this makes people think I’m being pedantic or sarcastic, but I’m actually just trying to make it make sense. Otherwise is makes me twitch inside.
Fortunately as I now understand myself better I have better control over it and how to use it. In my last job I sometimes felt like rain man. I would be pouring over contracts, or procedures and would spot what I would think are glaring errors really easily. They would just jump off the page at me.
Conversely there are still some really simple things to this day that I do not just understand. I will leave it to the grammar police to point out the “obvious” mistakes in this blog! (PS the grammar police has proof read the blog and removed the obvious typos!!)
Anyway, my point being that growing up wasn’t always easy. I struggled to make friends, due to my Pedantic or sarcastic nature. I started off quite confident as a kid, but due to my problems in this area couldn’t keep friends for very long and over time I lost confidence in myself, by the now “year 11” I had become a virtual recluse and all I did was study and that was about it.
Hidden away from the world, and not speaking to anyone either at home or at school.
My confidence was at an all time low.
It started to come back when I went to college and started to rebuild over the years. It was only when setting up my own life and surrounding myself with good friends and a loving relationship that I finally found my own stride. This took some 30+ years.
Now I know this isn’t a journey you want to put your child on. So how can we avoid this lifelong rebuild?
So I reflect on how I have turned myself around. How I now have the confidence to stand up in front of people on a daily basis without running away.
How I have the confidence to meet new people, talk to them, look them in the eye, even occasionally smile at strangers in a shop.
And how you can use these tactics to help your child be confident everyday!
We consider ourselves the confidence experts in our classes. We believe this, because we see how our classes and the methods we use impact on the kids we teach.
For many years now parents have been bringing kids to our classes that are low in confidence, being bullied, physically or mentally, afraid to do anything, stay in play computer games, the list goes on.
After a few weeks we see a change in them. The tactics we use are not rocket science and can easily be used at home.
Firstly, before we start our classes we try to have a bit of fun with them. Especially with our younger group. We just get a football out, we play football, basketball, netball, whatever the game of the day is as picked by the kid in charge at the time.
No rules, no structure but we get involved. Your kids want attention, they want it from people they know, they certainly want it from you. So drop the phone, get involved in what they’re doing. Even if its just for 10 minutes day. Give them your undivided attention.
We have a cat. Now I’m a dog person and don’t like cats (sorry Jazz its not true, I love you now).
So when we (I) decided to get a cat (we moved to the country so rodent control was going to be necessary) I had to look up how to deal with a cat. So I did a LOT of research in what I needed to do.
Now the biggest thing that relates here, is that you need to give them attention. When they come and head butt you, lay on your lap, lay on your laptop, lay on your newspaper, what ever it is they’re laying on (they do a lot of this!) they want your undivided attention. You give it to them. You pop down your phone, stop watching the TV, stop talking and you give them a fuss.
How often do you do this with your own child?
So everyday, give them time. I’m not sure 10 minutes will be enough, give them 30 minutes, 100% undivided hopefully an hour. No grown up talk, no grown up TV, no reading the newspaper. Just 100% undivided, be silly with your child.
The next step of our class is to settle them down. So we’ve started them off by running around and now we want them to listen and focus.
It’s a bit like shaking a bottle of fizz and expecting it not to explode. So, much like a bottle of fizz, we need them to settle. So we stop, we close our eyes and we do nothing. This is only for a total of 10 seconds. Because we want everyone to do it, it can take a minute or two if they’re over excited.
But at least at the end of this, they’re a lot calmer. Now this in itself will not build confidence, but as a joined up tactic it will certainly help.
What we’re achieving here is a settled child that is ready to learn. Rather than screaming and shouting and escalating, we are bringing them back down to a place that they’re ready to learn from.
So you can employ this tactic at home. If you’re trying to get them ready for dinner/bed/school/bath whatever it is that you regularly battle with rather than having a row with them (this row is what will impact their confidence) they won’t understand the transition from outside playing, to go to bed now!
Have a transition activity. Whilst sitting down, legs crossed and eyes shut might seem a little new age for some of you. It does work! But you can employ other tactics or routines. Before you go to bed, we must get clean, read a book, brush our teeth. Whatever it is that works for you. But I would certainly encourage the quiet sitting!
We then move onto our drills. Now the key with anything that kids do, is positive encouragement. If you want them to enjoy something, if you see the worth in what is being taught in the class and know that it is a life skill or even life changing activity like our classes then there are a few key phrases that you can use and not use to ensure a love of that activity.
Do praise your child for how well they did and how well they tried.
Do ask your child what they enjoyed most about the class.
Do not criticise in any sort of way. Throughout a class I will give constructive criticism, helping them develop in one technique or another. They do not need criticism from yourselves at this time. They just need you to say how brilliant they’ve been trying and explore what they enjoyed most.
So moving this home, when you ask them to do something, help them to do it, if necessary. Show them how to do it the first time, help them do it the second time, and then start getting them to do it as much as possible.
If they get it wrong, so what. They’re learning literally thousands of things all of the time. We as adults praise ourselves if we learn one thing every day. Now times that by 1,000!! So when they do their shoelaces wrong, when the put their T shirt on the wrong way, who cares. Praise them for trying hard and help them correct for next time.
We do this with hand protection. When we ask them to put it away, I will sit by the kit bag. Wait for them to come over, but I won’t let them put the gloves away until they’re correctly paired.
I will teach them how to do it, unpair them, get them to do it, with assistance if necessary and very quickly they learn how to do it themselves. At this point, I praise them enthusiastically.
Make them do hard things. Now this is super important. Life is hard, school is hard, exams are hard. So teach them early on that life is tough. Not by making them go to work and earn a living at the age of 5. Just make them do things they don’t want to do or find tough.
Now think about the previous section. When you have made them do something tough, you don’t just give them a pat on the back and say well done, you make a huge thing of how well they’ve done.
They then get rewarded for effort.
So when they’re finding a class tough, or a club tough and don’t want to go anymore. Make them. You are the parent, you’re in charge, you know what’s best for them, so you decide. And when they overcome the thing they were finding tough, you celebrate and you celebrate!
We hold regular gradings celebrations, these are a chance for the kids to show off their stuff to the family and show what progress they’ve made. When they pass, we hope everyone celebrate the achievement.
We also have “Level Grades” these are a recap of the previous 3 colour belts. These are really tough and can only be passed with hard work and dedication at home and in class.
So kids will often try and quit at this time. This is the last thing you should allow them to do. They’re finding something hard and don’t want to work for it. But you know what lays around the corner. So make them go, make them practise and give them a carrot. So they know when they’ve passed the test they’re going to get X reward.
You then teach them the value of hard work, the value of studying, the value of perseverance. And what a boost to their confidence it will be when they pass.
Avoid failure. I have never failed a student. Sounds unlikely, but the reason for this is that I do a pre grading and only invite people who have passed the pre grading to test.
The pass % on pre grading is less than 50%! But this does mean that when they come, they can be confident that they will pass. They know that there is a high percentage chance they will get a new belt and be rewarded for their effort.
To apply this at home you can celebrate many things. A good school report, doing the washing up, making a nice cup of tea, going to bed on time, whatever it is you want them to improve on.
Carrots work better than sticks. So if you’re struggling to get your child to do X, give them an incentive of Y to get them to do X.
Consistency is absolutely key. Especially with special children like me. I need to have my routine. So our classes are always, Sit down, Warm up, Technical, Activity, Close range, Champions for life, game and star of the class.
More importantly we are consistent in our approach to the kids. I don’t lose my temper, I don’t blame the kids, I don’t scream or shout I am consistently consistent. The kids know this, they trust this and they build their confidence within this and its boundaries.
They will test the boundaries, they will try and get attention (this may be positive or negative, they don’t know the difference) and as long as I respond the same and I’m consistent and structured in my approach the entire time, they flourish.
This doesn’t mean I don’t laugh and joke, as I do. I’m consistently smiling, consistently laughing, I even pull faces at them to cheer them up. But I will also consistently help them, make their technique better, make them kick faster, harder, better. It is my job as an adult to improve them and pass on my knowledge and have fun.
I don’t go easy on them, I don’t let them off because they are only 5, I have my standards that I expect them to meet (they are different to what I expect from an adult). If you let them off and make it easy, they get lazy and then when school is tough, they want to quit.
By being consistent, praising and building confidence, they won’t want to quit. They will know that hard work brings its own rewards. It might just be sitting down with Mum and Dad and playing games or chatting, or watching TV together, doesn’t matter.
Reward the hard work, make them do the hard work and watch them flourish!
Have fun with yours kids
Give your child attention (just for them, no phones!!)
Calm them down when necessary
Lots of encouragement, be constructive when necessary but reward trying and effort
Carrots work better than the stick, give them positive things to work towards
Let me know how it goes and if you have any other ideas?