How to install confidence in young children?

(16 Posts)
DTisMYdoctor Fri 23-Aug-13 16:48:52

A comment on another thread prompted me to post this. I'm really interested in thoughts about how to encourage children to be confident.

DS has just started school. He's confident enough in environments that he is very comfortable with e.g. The nursery he attended for four years, but can really lack confidence in new or different situations and in particular where there are large groups of children.

I don't imagine that's all that uncommon, but I had real confidence issues at school and was bullied. DS is one of the few children in his class that didn't go to the school nursery, so unlike most of the others doesn't really know anyone yet. I know he will get to know people etc, and just because I was bullied doesn't mean he will be, but I'd be really interested to here anyone's thoughts on how to help him develop more confidence if that's possible at all.

Bonsoir Fri 23-Aug-13 16:59:37

In order to instill confidence it is best to expose DC to a broad range of social situations, both with and without you. The more the better, really. Nursery can be deceptive because although DC spend a long time there, it is very contained and controlled. Do you take your DC to parties, the playground, the beach?

DTisMYdoctor Fri 23-Aug-13 17:16:50

Yes, we do all of those things. DS is really reluctance to go off without us or play with other children at the playground, unless we actually go with someone he knows well. I think, but don't know, that part of the problem (at the playground anyway) is that DH (who is brilliant at playing with DS) has always really played with him at the playground, so he really wants to play their mad involved games when we go, rather than going off happily without us or playing with other children.

Bonsoir Fri 23-Aug-13 17:36:47

Yes, you need to convince your DH that playing with DS at the playground is hindering the development of his social skills. Leave mad playing for places where there are no social opportunities.

Does your DS do swimming or football or any other extra curricular activity?

DTisMYdoctor Fri 23-Aug-13 17:47:42

We've had that chat recently Bonsoir and DH is on board. DH probably goes to the playground more often than me, and it was just recently that I picked up on it. Yes, he does extra-curricular activities, and has done from quite a young age. To give just one example, today at football, even though he's been going for a couple of years, when they were all invited to go and get a ball, even though DS was already at the front, he was the last to get a ball. He'll really hang back when other kids are piling in to get something. I know that alone isn't necessarily an issue, but it's part of a bigger pattern really.

He had a drama class at nursery that he really enjoyed (external drama teacher took the class) and the teacher did mention to me that he was really enthusiastic and good in the class so now he's started school I thought I might look into finding a class - I thought drama might be quite good for confidence building, especially as he seems to enjoy it.

Bonsoir Fri 23-Aug-13 18:05:14

Yes, find anything he enjoys and that will boost his confidence. Confidence derives from competence and people enjoy things they are good at.

My DD loves drama, circus, gym, water sports and is confident at all of those. Don't ask her to play tennis though - she'll really hang back as she hates it.

DTisMYdoctor Fri 23-Aug-13 18:16:26

Thanks. I suppose I'm concerned about saying/doing the wrong thing and making situations worse. I'm not sure the best way to handle situations e.g. similar to the ball thing today - encourage him, ignore it etc.

clairedunphy Fri 23-Aug-13 18:47:10

Watching with interest, you could be writing about my DS OP, he too is confident in known environments but really hangs back if he's not with friends or somewhere familiar. He does swimming and football and really enjoys both but doesn't particularly interact with the other kids, although if he's there with his friends he's happy to get into mischief with them.

He's starting school in a couple of weeks and will already know a number of children, which in a way is great but I do think he'll tend to stick with them and not make an effort to make new friends. I'm quite happy with this most of the time, as long as he's happy. DH and I were both fairly reserved as kids (or as my parents would say, painfully shy),so I don't expect him to be the life and soul but do just want to make sure that he doesn't hold back from opportunities because he's not confident enough to go for it.

I always found as a child that the worst possible thing anyone could do was draw attention to my reticence, so I'm loathe to make an issue of it whilst still wanting to support him as best as I can.

Not very helpful, sorry!

sheeplikessleep Fri 23-Aug-13 18:53:50

My DS1 started reception last September and I had similar concerns.
TBH, his confidence and communication have both increased a lot since starting school. He volunteers for things he never would have before starting, talks to adults I've never seen before (who work at the school) and initiates conversation.

badguider Fri 23-Aug-13 19:11:26

I was an "only" until I was 7 and my parents were not ones for joining in with playing at all.. but they always made me feel like it was totally normal for me to run off and play myself or with whichever other children were around. They would never even indicate that that maybe I 'should' feel reticent and so I never did.

If I didn't want to do something they'd just be 'oh, ok then' but if they could tell I did want to do something they'd be really encouraging and remind me i'd regret it if i didn't.

They were quiet and socially quite introverted (I see now) but totally gave off an impression of quiet self-confidence and never doubted themselves or their self worth or let me do so. To this day I don't know how much of this was an act for my benefit but it certainly worked.

badguider Fri 23-Aug-13 19:13:18

Oh, and I was always encouraged to pay for things in shops and ask questions when required without it being made into a big thing... just if we were in a little shop and I asked my mum if they had ice creams she'd say 'ask the man behind the counter'... little things to build my confidence.

Nagoo Fri 23-Aug-13 19:30:09

My DS is very quiet in unknown situations. He'll also be silly if he is anxious. He is only really himself around my mum, DH's mum and dad and my sister.

He did not speak for the first 6 weeks of reception. He was very well spoken at home, it was quite a shock to hear how different he was at school. He settled in ok after the second term, and made friends but he is still nervous around adults.

I had some problems with silly behaviour brought on by anxiety, but school were really good and he has a close relationship with a TA now in Yr 1 who keeps him on track.

I don't know what I would have done if school weren't so helpful.

Social skills are coming with age. He is getting better at sticking up for himself and he is able to bond better with children his age.

The drama thing is brilliant, I used to send DS but he couldn't cope with it, he would freeze if he thought he was being observed.

I helped his confidence at home by having a chat before bed about all the things he did well that day, and we also had a reward chart where I'd make a big song and dance about his achievements. The teachers have plastered him in stickers and it is making a difference.

This was emotive for me because I felt like my whole purpose was to instill confidence in my children and help them be self assured. I have had to accept that DS has a more introverted and retiring personality than DH and I, and we have to work with him to help him recognise his talents, without worrying too much about his social skills. He is fitting in a lot better at school now, he's going into Y2 and I am hoping that this year he will continue to build his self-esteem.

clairedunphy Fri 23-Aug-13 19:53:29

badguider that is exactly how I'd like to be as a parent, but I think it's sometimes easier said than done. I will definitely try to have that approach though. I actually don't mind at all that he may be an introvert, I recently read the book Quiet and it makes you realise how much pressure western society puts on people to be extroverts when there's a lot of value in having a good balance of the two.

Just as long as he's happy, and confident in himself - if only it were that simple!

DTisMYdoctor Fri 23-Aug-13 19:54:52

Thanks everyone for your comments. It's reassuring to know it's not just me. I find it quite emotive too, I had such a hard time for various reasons growing up, and I find it painful when he's struggling. I just want his childhood to be happier than mine.

I'm definitely going to sign him up for drama and make a concerted effort to encourage him to ask for things himself etc.

badguider Fri 23-Aug-13 21:37:11

clairedunphy - I think that there's a lot of confusion between 'quiet' and 'lacking self confidence'. People can be quiet but perfectly self-assured... others can be loud but covering up lack of self-confidence.
I wouldn't worry much about the 'quiet' but concentrate on the self-assuredness.

clairedunphy Fri 23-Aug-13 22:26:51

Yes, definitely a good distinction to concentrate on, in fact that is part of what the book Quiet talks about. Thanks for your thoughts, much appreciated.

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