What do growth mindset, positive relationship-building and academic success all have in common?
They are all powered by a strong sense of self-esteem.
Providing opportunities for children to feel heard, loved and brave do not need to come at a high cost- but do need to be integrated into your routines consistently and meaningfully.
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
― Carol S. Dweck, Developmental Psychologist
Here are 5 ways that you can support self-confidence at home or in your classroom:
1. Positive Affirmations
Do you ever feel like your accolades have become white noise?
Praise is actually a short-term, surface-level, low-impact tool in confidence-building. Praise can even be more damaging than good if it doesn't align with the students' beliefs, therefore making it sound void of validity and authenticity (which may impact trust). We want to avoid creating "slaves of praise" and have children recognize, through their own life experiences, the immense value they bring to this world.
Affirmations, however, are long-term and deeply rooted in progress. When we explicitly talk about the process vs. the product, and actions alongside attributes, we are setting them up for the greatest chance of success.
Inviting kids to get into the habit of acknowledging their own strengths and abilities, is the most powerful tool of all.
Watercolor Affirmation Station
Color by Code Positive Self-Talk
2. Be proactive, not reactive.
One of the most important pillars of childhood (and adulthood- let's be real), is making mistakes- and when they do happen, your reaction has a tremendous influence on their growth mindset.
Avoid: "You just aren't a Math person, like me."
Instead: "Thank you for sharing that [Math] has been tricky for you. I see how hard you are trying. Which part frustrates you the most?"
Avoid: "You should have known this."
Instead: "Walk me through what worked and what didn't during the test. Let's focus on a glow (something we excelled at) and a grow (something we're working on) from today."
Avoid: "What were you thinking, getting into a fight?"
Instead: "If you could imagine a new ending to the disagreement, what would it be?"
3. Let their strengths shine.
Let them feel the rush of taking ownership for something. Whether it's reading their little brother a bedtime story, being the calm line caboose during line-up drills, or making posters to remind friends how and what to recycle, it's important to let them experience leadership.
4. Embrace their uniqueness.
Flip the childhood narrative and let kids cheer about what makes them different. How?
⋒ Picture books
There are some fantastic suggestions at the Children's Library Lady blog to get you started here.
⋒ Through play
⋒ Highlight the insecurities you had, that turned into strengths
They are always watching, so we have to be very cognizant of how we carry ourselves, speak about our own insecurities and handle our own mistakes (or react to the faults of others).
Show them grace, persistence, assertiveness and pride and they will thrive.