Sitting across the table from my Aunt and Uncle at a post-funeral lunch my Aunt blurts out "I wish my daughter was more confident." Hmm I think. Her 8 year old seems happy but shy. There's nothing wrong with being shy but I understand her wish for her daughter to really emerge from childhood feeling confident. So I began thinking what is confidence? What is the root causes of confidence? How can we nurture it?
Confidence actually can be derived from its Latin roots to be explained as "with trust" or "with faith" or "with belief" which appears correct. A confident child displays a belief in his or her own abilities. Such a belief is developed over time but hinges upon the ability to experience self-trust. So how much can a parent nurture such qualities in his or her child?
I would say greatly! Children develop as a complex interplay between their internal and external environment. Parents play an enormous role in a child's world. Children naturally look up to their parents for guidance, feeling good and learning how to behave and believe in this world. Some key points to nurture self-trust and confidence in a child are:
Is every child capable of feeling confident? Yes. Are their situations where the cards are stacked against them? Yes. Unfortunately too many children (1 in 5) grow up in situations where they have experienced trauma, abuse or maltreatment. If this is the case a child has a little extra work to feel well and then develop self-confidence. The good news it is always possible. With mentoring, education, therapy and creative programs so many children have learned how to feel good about their skills and eventually trust their abilities.
Faith, belief and trust
Confidence is built upon the ability to begin seeing oneself as skilled. A child's confidence is accelerated when parents or adults place their trust and belief in a child. A child will then mirror internally those beliefs. Step by step and day by day a child develops his or her own self-confidence. So many famous individuals have explained that it is confidence that has propelled them to their level of success. Listen to a few here:
"Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself" - Sophia Loren
"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement"
- Golda Meir
"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit" - E.E. Cummings