Raising Confident Kids
It takes confidence to be a kid. Whether going to a new school or stepping up to bat for the first time, kids face a lot of uncharted territory. Naturally, parents want to instill a can-do attitude in their kids so that they’ll bravely take on new challenges and, over time, believe in themselves. While each child is a little different, parents can follow some general guidelines to build kids’ confidence.
My kids have tried it all. I have driven them to sports, found drum teachers, glass blowing lessons, painting and ceramics classes. They have tried their hands at their school newspapers, student government, ESL tutoring and computer programming camp, though why that qualifies as camp, I am sure that I will never know. In the end, they did not commit to most of these activities, but at the same time, I never let them quit a single activity.
Our rule is simple: Try any activity that we have the resources to make possible. Go once, go even twice but if you commit, I told my kids, there will be no quitting. At the risk of overgeneralizing, I think our children have so many choices of ways to enrich their lives that sometimes kids quit an activity as an easy response to frustration or boredom.
Self-confidence rises out of a sense of competence. In other words, kids develop confidence not because parents tell them they’re great, but because of their achievements, big and small. Sure, it’s good to hear encouraging words from mom and dad. But words of praise mean more when they refer to a child’s specific efforts or new abilities.
Martial Arts Instructors call this “Stacking”. When students first come aboard we talk to parents about avoiding comparing their kids with other kids. In martial arts students real opponent or competition is themselves. “In the beginning instructors are “good finders” pointing out each child’s strong points and praising them while challenging they to do something more” according to Grand Master Silva.
Once the journey begins kids gain competence at basics, kids, drills, patterns, self defense and free style. They earn and are rewarded belts, stripes and awards for practicing, patience, courtesy, goal setting and more, This “Stacking” of success references gives kids confidence to try new things and reach new levels because they are accomplishing things very few of their peers will ever do. A child that becomes a Black Belt is like a scout that becomes an “Eagle”.
Martial Arts is also just fun, healthy, great for fitness and more. The gift of martial arts lessons is a gift that will go a long way.