Building self-esteem and confidence during childhood can have many positive impacts later on in life.
In the second of our life skills blog series, this article focusses on confidence and communication, two very intertwined life skills that impact on many aspects of our daily lives as both adults and children. At its core, confidence is about feeling sure of yourself and your own abilities, the quiet knowledge that you are capable.
Building self-esteem and confidence during childhood can have countless positive impacts later on in life. Confident children and teens are more likely to move forward with people and opportunities and if things don't work out at first, confidence helps them to try again. Confident adults will be more likely to reach their full potential and live fulfilling, happier lives.
Ensuring we give as much time to developing our child’s life skills as academic achievements is key to fostering long term happiness [link to happiness blog] and at Simply Theatre we believe that being good problem solvers, decision makers, creative thinkers, communicators, being self aware, empathetic, coping with emotions and dealing with stress are the skills that determine our potential more than academic prowess.
Speech and drama activities are an ideal way to build self-confidence in a child. Good listening is the basis of great communication and is a great way to engage shyer, more introverted children with performing arts. At Simply Theatre, we consider a student who volunteers opinions and ideas, is willing to try new things, is comfortable meeting and working with new people, or is happy to go first or last to be truly confident. I believe the art to developing any new skills is a safe environment. Encouraging contributions that are built upon rather than knocked down or dismissed is they key to growing confidence through communication.
So as parents, how can we foster and build self-esteem and confidence in our children? Below we make some simple suggestions for how small actions at home can have a big impact on self confidence in our children:
Ensure your child speaks for themselves even if you have to wait for them to find the right words. Empower them to find their voice.
Get your child singing and sing with them. If it's a favourite song you can take alternate verses or take turns making up songs about whatever is going on around right now. Pick a well known tune (nursery rhymes for younger children are great, or a favourite pop song for older ones) encourage them to have fun!
Set aside 'talking time' during or after meals at the dinner table. Make sure each child has a turn, is listened to, and not interrupted. When they're finished, paraphrase what you heard, praise and respond. Ask lots of open-ended questions. Try asking 'why' or 'how' to elicit longer answers. This can be started alone and built up to a group situation.
Ask your child to re-tell a favourite story encouraging them to take on the voices and actions of all the characters.
Say yes instead of no, as much as possible. This is difficult because by the time our children have been speaking fluently for a few years, we can become hard wired into saying no. When your child asks to do something try where possible to rephrase a straight no into a qualified yes. When faced with a request to play outside in torrential weather, ‘’Yes, why not? And what do you think we would need to do to go out in weather like this?”.
Say yes to their activity suggestions. If they ask you to play with them dressing up, or playing shop, find a way to say yes. If you are doing something already, can you stop for a bit? If not, let them know when you can come and play, and stick to it!
Hearing yes instead of no over periods of time really helps with building a child’s confidence and the desire to communicate. In the drama studio, we spend the first 6 weeks training children to say yes not no to each other’s ideas.
Gaining confidence is a journey, unique to every person, at Simply Theatre we treat each child as an individual and understand that their starting levels of confidence will vary dramatically. Our courses are designed to provide an environment where every child can grow their confidence at their own pace, regardless of the level or age at which they join us.