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Looking at Values:


Thinking About Confidence

Definition: Has assurance; certainty that thoughts and actions are valid.
Behavior reflecting
the value:
She denied vehemently that the rules of the game allowed the other players to take extra money. She told the other children how to build the castle and further said that by doing as she suggested (commanded, even), "it would stay up."
Knowledge and
skills needed:
Rather than specific knowledge and skills, a person needs experiences where her ideas have worked, where she is proven right, where others support her, her ideas and plans.
Insights about the
To be effective a child's confidence must be built on a solid basis of knowledge and skills. Otherwise, she will have only the illusion of confidence, like the emperor's new clothes, insubstantial, and could get into difficult situations. Maybe confidence should be related to areas of expertise or the ability to find solutions. A person without confidence, on the other hand, will be hesitant to act at all.
Value present
at birth?
Could be. If a child is confident at birth, your challenge will be to keep her sense of confidence alive and balanced.

Teaching or Preserving Confidence
Baby: You begin to build your baby's sense of confidence by responding to her needs. She learns, "I can cry and thus meet my needs."
Toddler/Preschooler: Encourage your child to explore and experiment while keeping her safe. Give her experiences of being able to care of herself, to create, and to do things which can increase her sense of confidence. Be positive toward her in whatever she attempts.
School age/Teenage: Provide on-going support and safety as a child moves out into the world by helping her think through what she is doing and the possible consequences of her actions. As she goes through elementary school, she needs to become competent in something she enjoys, whether it is academic work, a hobby, a musical instrument, or a sport. Encourage this specialty throughout her teenage years.

Be aware that over-confident teenagers are apt to put themselves in unsafe situations.

Influences on Learning Confidence
Needs: Your child's self needs—needs for feeling good about herself—can be at least partially met by feelings of confidence and may, in some children, provide a drive to feel confident.
Temperament: A child whose approach to life is to move out into it is more apt to feel confident than a child who tends to hold back or withdraw from new people or experiences.
Learning style: A child whose learning style makes academic achievement difficult will be less apt to feel confident. She needs to build a sense of confidence in areas other than academic achievement.

Reflections about Confidence
Influence of other
To be a contributing member of society the confident person needs to be guided by other values, such as thoughtful decision making and/or caring.
New thinking
resulting from
Recognize that a child's degree of confidence must be balanced with some skepticism or uncertainty. Being totally confident, not questioning, could be disastrous, as could having too little confidence.

Adapted from Using Your Values to Raise Your Child to Be an Adult You Admire by Harriet Heath, Ph.D.

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Last updated May 05, 2008