Instilling self-confidence in children

Manju Gupta

How do we as teachers develop self-confidence in a child?
Archana Baboo, Pallavi Model School

Teachers in school play a pivotal role in instilling self-confidence in children. Teachers can teach self-confidence from the moment a child enters the classroom. It is said that when a child lives with praise, he likes himself and this in turn builds his self-confidence. According to Mark Victor, every teacher needs to reiterate this; “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” This will help the child become less fearful and intimidated when he does something wrong.

The teacher needs to carefully monitor each child’s progress and ensure that they compliment or reward the child whenever goals are met. This motivates the child and makes him self-confident to foray into uncharted waters and be more adventurous. Whenever a child needs to be corrected for any misconduct, the teacher needs to have a positive demeanour which will enable the child to understand her point more clearly while retaining her/his self- confidence. At every juncture the child needs to understand that when he is corrected, it is done with an aim to help him do better and not to lower his self-esteem.

Another factor needed to develop self-confidence in children is unconditional love and approval. Complimenting them more for what they are and understanding their positive individual traits are also important.

It is said that example is better than precept. So, if the teacher is self-confident it automatically will percolate to her children. A lot of times we see that children are as good as their teacher. The teacher is often a role model and children venerate their teacher to such an extent that her word is law for them. So, all positive reinforcements help the child’s self-confidence to grow. A look of approval, a word of praise, an encouraging touch will go miles in boosting their self-confidence.

Self-confidence also gives the child the freedom to make mistakes and teaches him to cope with failure without feeling that his world has come to an end or that he is useless. This feeling can be instilled by the teacher only if she supports the child and guides him to do what is right without undermining his behaviour. Rather than reprimanding and rebuking him for any misconduct, the teacher needs to help the child to look within himself and make him realise his mistake. This will have a two-pronged effect. The child will learn to analyse his mistake and correct it; and he will develop confidence to face the teacher without fear. Fear undermines self-confidence and hence needs to be kept at bay.

The following account shows how a teacher can impact a child’s life and teach him to be self-confident:
Yes – I am certain that a teacher can pass on this self-confidence, because I was one of those students. When I was in 4th grade, I had a wonderful teacher (Mr. Weidner) that told us over and over that we could do whatever we had set our minds to do. After living in a household with a father that could find fault with absolutely anything and everything, I really doubted that I could do anything at all much less choose for myself. Mr. Weidner’s patience and persistence created an environment of hope, which could then protect the seeds of self-confidence. He shared this message with all of us in his classroom, and we knew that he was always watching. As a girl in a small rural community, where only about 5% of the students even thought about going on to college, his message was completely about not relying on others for your confidence, but knowing – really knowing that you had it within you and being confident about achieving your goal.

So go ahead and sow the seeds of self-confidence in a child and see him bloom into a well balanced individual who will spread the fragrance of happiness all around him.

The author is Principal, Pallavi Model School, Hyderabad. She can be reached at [email protected].

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