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Teri Andrews Rinne is the
children’s services librarian at the Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave.,
Truckee. Call 530-582-7846 or visit www.mynevadacounty.com/library.
This is the fifth
installment in a series based upon the book “Building Resilience in
Children and Teens.” Find Parts 1-4 at www.tahoedailytribune.com,
Last week, I covered the
foundational C of developing competence. The second C of confidence is
rooted in competence. Young people need confidence to be able to
navigate the world, think outside the box, and recover from challenges.
Why is confidence so important? It feels
good, of course, to know that you can do something well.
especially critical to children because it is necessary to navigating
childhood and adolescence successfully and safely, a journey that
involves taking risks every step of the way - walking into a new school
for the first time, trying to make friends, or looking foolish by
speaking up in class or not making the team.
Without authentic confidence, children
will not take necessary risks. With authentic confidence, they will
feel like they have some degree of power over their environment and are
more likely to persevere and have an optimistic outlook instead of
feeling passive and powerless.
Ginsburg takes great pains to
differentiate between confidence and self-esteem. He feels as if the
self-esteem movement may have done more harm than good over the past 30
years, in that it is externally driven by parents and teachers.
It is as if adults can construct a child’s
self-esteem by telling him three times a day that he is terrific,
beautiful or brilliant. Children are not dumb; they can see through
empty words and labels. Ginsburg has nothing against self-esteem, but he
wants it to be deep-seated, authentic and permanent.
Children who experience their own
competence and know they are safe and protected develop a deep-seated
security that promotes the confidence to face and cope with challenges.
When parents support children in finding their own islands of
competence and building on them, they prepare the kids to gain enough
confidence to try new ventures and trust their abilities to make sound
According to Ginsburg, there are three
major ways that we can instill confidence in our children - catch them
being good, offer genuine praise, and set reasonable expectations.
In thinking about your children’s degree of confidence, consider the following questions:
- So I see the best in my children so that they can see the best in themselves?
- Do I clearly express that I expect the
best qualities (not achievements, but personal qualities such as
fairness, integrity, persistence and kindness) in them?
- Do I help them recognize what they have done right or well?
- Do I treat them as an incapable child or as a youngster who is learning to navigate their world?
- Do I praise them often enough? Do I praise
them honestly about specific achievements or do I give such diffuse
praise that it doesn’t seem authentic?
- Do I catch them being good when they are generous, helpful, and kind or when they do something without being asked or cajoled?
- Do I encourage them to strive just a bit farther because I believe they can succeed? Do I hold realistically high expectations?
- Do I unintentionally push them to take on more than they can realistically handle, causing them to stumble and lose confidence?
- When I need to criticize or correct them,
do I focus only on what they are doing wrong or do I remind them that they are
capable of doing well?