Life Skills – How to Teach Kids Confidence

I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear that developing a healthy self-confidence is crucial to one’s success.  In order to accomplish anything, you first have to believe that you can do it.  You can be scared, nervous, fearful, or anxious but you must have the overall belief in yourself that you can do it. In this post we will discuss how to teach kids confidence.

Learning how to teach kids confidence will help them feel invincible
Learning how to teach kids confidence will help them feel invincible

Some people are naturally confident while others are clearly lacking self-esteem.  You can usually pick out people on these two ends of the spectrum just by looking at them and talking to them.  Thankfully, parents and teachers have the ability to help kids develop long lasting confidence in themselves.

One of the selling points of all martial arts studio owners is that martial arts build confidence.  While this is true, it is important to understand that you can use just about anything to build confidence in kids.  Whether it’s a physical ability like playing a sport or doing karate or an academic skill like playing chess or being a competitive speller, the first step in helping kids build confidence is to take a genuine interest in these activities.

The next step is to be encouraging and supportive.  Celebrate their successes, support them in their failures.  Make sure they are challenged and help them set goals in their chosen area but don’t be overbearing and critical.  The flow chart below summarizes how confidence is developed:

Enjoyment –> Goals –> Challenge –> Success  =  Confidence

Pushing too hard and being overcritical will result in a lack of confidence since kids will never feel like they are good enough.  When helping kids build their confidence, remember the first step is enjoyment.

Teach kids confidence not arrogance
Teach kids confidence not arrogance

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Let’s apply the process to confidence.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Confidence means “Believing in yourself and your abilities.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Speak/act with confidence:  whether or not you actually feel confident, it is important to look the part.  Stand/sit up tall, look people in the eyes, don’t fidget, and speak loudly and clearly.  Even if you don’t feel confident, sometimes just by faking it and looking the part will help you eventually feel confident.
    • Be encouraging:  we all have the responsibility to help our friends and family members be confident and have high self-esteem.  By simply giving words of encouragement when someone is feeling down as well as when they have achieved something will help them feel confident.  Try to not be critical or hurtful.  Remember the old saying, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of confidence in karate:  there are many specific areas in karate that build student’s confidence.  One such areas is board breaking.  My instructor used to say, if you don’t think you are going to break the board, you won’t.  He was right.  In order to break a board, you not only need to have good technique and power, but more importantly you have to believe that you will do it.  Once you are successful in breaking a board, your confidence skyrockets.  Think about it.  If you can punch or kick something and break it, what can’t you do?
    • Example of confidence at school:  the class is taking a math test and everyone does well except for one student who fails.  Rather than making fun of the student or being critical, you encourage the other student and tell them they will get it next time.  The next time there is a math test, the student who failed last time aced it while more than half the class did poorly.  Rather than saying nothing or being jealous, you congratulate the other student on their success.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have confidence?  If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never accomplish anything.  In order to be successful, you need to believe that you can do it.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
If you think you can you're right
If you think you can you’re right

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids about character.

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