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To think schools should do more to boost our DCs' confidence

(59 Posts)
phonebox Sun 23-Mar-14 10:41:25

Disclaimer: I'm no expert on what most schools currently do to help shy children, but just going off what I have witnessed.

I was cripplingly shy as a child and adolescent and know that it has really delayed my career. DP is the same; and I'm worried about our DCs heading down the same path. I can't help but notice that all the more extrovert, confident and socially bright schoolmates of mine have all had a headstart on their careers as it were, and although DP and I were given all the best academic opportunities at school, we feel stunted by our early lack of self-confidence. Even now, I feel disadvantaged by my nervousness and lack of social polish in the workplace.

I know I would trade-off some of my academic success for more confidence to speak up for myself. And I would likely be far better off for it now.

With qualifications becoming less valued in favour of work experience (which IMO is greatly aided by a bucketload of networking), AIBU to think schools should be showing shyer children the benefits of networking and maybe having weekly interview skills lessons or similar, all the way from primary school upwards?

Or do they already do this, and just aren't plugging the benefits enough?

GertTheFlirt Sun 23-Mar-14 10:48:09

Schools can only pick up and correct so much of parental shortfalls. If you have not given your child the tools to be outgoing, spontaneous, self thinking, gregarious and so forth, where do you think the school will find this?

With qualifications becoming less valued in favour of work experience

Clearly you nor I are in the same educational environments.

BreeWannabe Sun 23-Mar-14 10:52:33

We try, believe me we do. But confidence isn't something which can be taught. It comes first and foremost from the home environment.

MrsHerculePoirot Sun 23-Mar-14 10:54:49

gert that is really rude - parental shortfall?!?

phonebox I am a teacher, we do try to teach self esteem, confidence, interview skills etc... However being shy yourself I'm sure you know that you can't just change the way someone is. Schools do try, but there is limited time and sadly due to the way things are going making a set number of levels of progress is what we are judged on - much as we all hate that.

Finola1step Sun 23-Mar-14 10:56:09

There are many things that parents can and should be doing to help their dc grow in confidence. Schools can be great with this but they can't do everything.

slartybartfast Sun 23-Mar-14 10:56:27

i rmember at a parents evening a teacher saying my dd had low self esteem, and i asked how to remedy that, and she said "I am working on it" hmm not helpful.

supermodel Sun 23-Mar-14 10:57:10

Hmm but whatever efforts are made at home need to be supported by school and in my experience,as shy chidren are often quiet and well behaved, they are ignored and not given the opportunity to come out of their shell.

sooperdooper Sun 23-Mar-14 10:57:34

If you're shy and not outgoing yourselves then that's where your dc have inherited/learned it from, I don't think it's gust to expect the school to be the ones to change it

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 23-Mar-14 11:04:31

YABU, schools have enough to do.

Millyblods Sun 23-Mar-14 11:05:02

But don't all personality types bring something to the table? If we were all the same then it would be very boring. Its perfectly ok to be shy and not outgoing. Maybe that is what she should be teaching our children, that it is perfectly ok to be just who they are not trying to make them feel that there is something wrong with them. I have to also agree that although schools do their best with their limited resources it is up to parents to nourish their childrens self esteem and help children to grow up happy within themselves whatever personality type they are.

slartybartfast Sun 23-Mar-14 11:05:48

i am sure it is in the curriculum and they do boost self esteem in a vareity of ways, recognising strengths and building on them, doing mini plays, having teachers awards for all sorts of daft reasons

Millyblods Sun 23-Mar-14 11:07:04

we not she

LizzieVereker Sun 23-Mar-14 11:07:47

I agree with Mrs HP - of course we should and do try to do this in schools, but there is only so much time.

I also think we serve pupils better by building their resilience, which often gets overlooked.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 23-Mar-14 11:10:40

"Hmm but whatever efforts are made at home need to be supported by school and in my experience,as shy chidren are often quiet and well behaved, they are ignored and not given the opportunity to come out of their shell."

The reverse of that is true as well, the school can put allsorts in place but if the parents don't back the school up its just a waste of time.

catkind Sun 23-Mar-14 11:16:10

I don't know what school did to DS, but his confidence has rocketed since he started. He was so shy and mousey at nursery age, wouldn't join in parties etc. First week of school he didn't say a word to anyone. By the time first parents evening came around he was joining in everything, speaking in front of the whole class, properly standing up for himself. Several friends have commented on the change in him.

I think part of it is that they're great at recognising the children's achievements at whatever level they are working. Some kids started able to read and write, DS couldn't even draw a picture, so the teacher would say how great it was when he drew something that was vaguely recognisable or tried to shape a letter. Rather than comparing his picture to other kids pictures and recognising the best, which is the way it was when I was at school. That promotes confidence. (And makes me wonder how nursery were doing it...)

I also think they do a lot on supporting the children's relationships and helping them make friends and be confident in themselves. They put a lot of value on interpersonal skills as well as academic skills, certificates in assembly etc. They have clearly been teaching them some specific strategies for dealing with situations, e.g. DS will now growl "keep your hands to yourself" if he thinks someone is playing too roughly with him.

We're right at the beginning at Reception, and maybe that's the way it has to be - now DS has been given that confidence, hopefully he'll be more resilient to knocks through his school career and keep it. But yes, agree it's a really important thing for schools to support whatever the age.

Thetallesttower Sun 23-Mar-14 11:17:03

I am not sure what you want schools to do?

My dd's (primary) school is very good about including all children. If there's an assembly, every single child stands up and says something. They make powerpoint presentations and present them- even the shy ones. They are very good at this type of thing, however, I'm not sure that muttering a few words in front of an audience once or twice a year really gives you the kind of social confidence you feel you were lacking.

I think out of school activities (or perhaps being in the choir or drama club at school) are excellent for this- Brownies/ Guides, church activities, be a guide at the local museum, anything which gets your children quietly but confidently interacting with others and makes them feel really valuable. I would deliberately choose interacting activities rather than say solitary learning of an instrument- although I guess orchestras can also be social.

I also think parents can teach or encourage the buds of social confidence. In our house, if you don't speak up and ask politely, you don't get. If we got to a cafe or restaurant or even just to buy an ice-cream, I have expected my two to politely ask for what they want and thank the person serving -or you don't get it (I wouldn't do this with a child who had real issues, I'm talking about the 'I'm tooooo shyyyyy to ask' type of thing 4 year old come out with). If a visitor comes into the house, you say 'hello' and look them in the eye- on the telephone you ask other people questions 'how was your day?'. A lot of this stuff can be taught and reinforced, it's not just natural in confident people.

Gunznroses Sun 23-Mar-14 11:17:13

Gert no need to be rude. OP i agree with you that a lot confidence and an extrovert personality are not something you can just teach, you can build up confidence but the level we all start with is from birth. You can also help a shy child to become more sociable but note i said 'a shy child' so you're already starting off with an more introverted child.

However, building confidence and encouraging shy personalities is something Independent schools seem to do really well to give those lacking a good enough chance. These includes performances at a young age, encouraging debates, regular school presentations etc that can help draw the quiet ones out of their shell. I didn't experience much of this in the state sector and shy children can tend to just settle into their comfort zones through school life.

On the other hand, I have see on MN confidence and assertiveness being perceived as arrogance and entitlement, so i guess it all depends on the outcomes the parents want subject to their interpretation of a confidence.

Personally i believe confidence and assertiveness is the quiet belief in yourself and your abilities without putting down others and the ability to get your point across firmly but in a non aggressive manner (not that i'm all of these, purely aspirational!).

I feel schools could do a lot more to help children by encouraging more public speaking at least within school and from a younger age (not just 'show and tell'), i feel by secondary school age its getting way to late.

ilovesooty Sun 23-Mar-14 11:26:25

I opened this inwardly sighing and thinking it would be another teacher bashing thread but I agree with the OP. She mentions one or two concrete ideas such as focusing on networking and interview skills and schools could do this... if of course government encouraged and supported this through the curriculum. I deliver careers advice and many adults don't not know how to action plan, how to network, how to promote their career prospects, how to prepare for interview or how to sell themselves. These skills would be more helpful than much of what is on the National Curriculum now.

ilovesooty Sun 23-Mar-14 11:27:46

don't know

rollonthesummer Sun 23-Mar-14 11:27:56

Last week I saw a post moaning that teachers should teach etiquette, now it should be their job to sort out confidence. At parents evening last week, I was asked for my advice on the increasing weight of one of my five year old pupils. I'm not quite sure what the mother wanted-me to produce a diet sheet, perhaps?!

I would boost any child's confidence as much as I possibly could and would obviously promote courtesy and politeness at all times. This is visible in any lesson; there is always a big focus on taking turns, waiting for your own turn, saying please/thank you and considering the feelings of others, but I'm bemused by what else some people expect?

pixiepotter Sun 23-Mar-14 11:30:34

Have you tried a small school with maybe 8 or 10 children in a year group, where everybody can shine at something

ilovesooty Sun 23-Mar-14 11:30:52

And as a counsellor I see lack of assertive skills as the root of most life difficulties damaging my clients both personally and professionally.

WeAreDetective Sun 23-Mar-14 11:34:25

But we do do this. confused

adeucalione Sun 23-Mar-14 11:48:22

The move towards group work, talking partners, child-led assemblies and - in secondary schools - teambuilding activities such as science challenge days and enterprise days are all designed to build confidence. There really is only so much schools can do.

If you have an introverted child then IMO the best things you can do is (1) encourage them to be happy as they are (2) model confident behaviour yourself and (3) take steps to increase their confidence at home, since they spend more hours there than at school.

Fairenuff Sun 23-Mar-14 11:50:06

OP one of the greatest things you can do to help your child is to value them just the way they are. They may be naturally shy and there is nothing wrong with that. If you try to change the basic nature of the child they will think that there is something inherently 'wrong' with them or that they are just not good enough.

Schools do what they can to help all children develop confidence in themselves but the majority of the influence will come from home. Find their strengths and celebrate them. Involve yourself in the things that interest your children and if they are shy, don't label them, don't comment on it, just accept it, the same way that you accept their eye colour.

Some children are quiet and reserved amongst their peers but are taking it all in. These are children who will observe, think and assess a situation before diving in. There are plenty of careers for people who think logically like this. There are all sorts of different personalities amongst adults and they don't get them from being taught at school.

Many quiet children grow up to be 'quietly confident' adults and are often admired for their calmness and restraint under stressful conditions. Diplomats, for example.

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