Some children are naturally more self-confident and suffer less from fear of failure than others. A lack of self-confidence is mainly caused by situations in which a child does not feel safe, connected or appreciated. It is also possible that parents or school expect too much from a child.
A risk of prolonged situations of uncertainty is that the child ends up in a negative spiral. When something goes wrong, it blames itself. This reinforces the negative self-image and makes your student even more insecure.
How do you recognize a child with a negative self-image?
- talks negatively about themselves: ‘I can’t do it’ or: ‘I’m stupid’;
- is shy, hesitant, does not take the initiative;
- fears things or avoids situations in which it can fail;
- often asks for help and is afraid to do things alone;
- displays remarkably tough, crazy or aggressive behaviour.
Be alert to these signals, especially if they occur more often and over a longer period of time.
Tips: this is how you help an insecure child
These tips will help you on your way to working with your students on their self-confidence:
1. Give compliments
Put less emphasis on what isn’t going well or what they can’t do. And focus on what is going well. That way you can ask more and more of them. Compliments are very important: they give a good feeling and contribute to more self-confidence.
2. Stimulate independence
Children gain more self-confidence when they notice that something that seemed difficult before, succeeds. Is this too scary and do they shut down completely or do they get angry? Then divide the task into chunks. And discuss in advance how they should handle each piece.
3. Give room for uncertainty
Especially with new experiences or making choices, it is important that you name the uncertainty. For example, you can say, “Do you find it exciting? That’s part of it. But if you do try, you will feel very proud afterwards. And next time it will be much less exciting.”
4. Do not compare
Every child is different and develops at his or her own pace. So don’t compare an insecure child with other children.
5. Let the child decide for himself
Does your student tend to ask for confirmation about everything? Do not give this directly, but ask a counter question. For example: ‘How would you solve it yourself?’ or ‘What would you do yourself?’. By asking these questions, your student learns to think for himself and to trust his or her own choices.
6. Use the power of the word ‘yet’
Does a child regularly say: ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I can’t do it’? Then answer: “You can’t do that yet.” This way you make it clear that it will work if you persevere, practice or get older.
7. Use conversation cards
In a personal conversation you will sooner find out which request for help is going on. In this way, you can jointly clarify what is already going well and what can be improved. Sometimes a conversation is difficult to start. It can help if you use interview cards .
8. Stimulate sports for more self-confidence
Sport helps you to trust your body, face challenges, make mistakes and overcome fears. Children also see that it goes better if they practice and train regularly. Moreover, they have a lot of contact with peers while playing sports and that is also important for self-confidence.