How My Daughter Gained Confidence
Confidence, What Every Child Needs
Self-confidence is hard to achieve. Adults doubt themselves and sometimes wonder if their best is really good enough. Even the most outwardly confident people have moments of low self-esteem. It is no wonder children find it hard to feel confident as they continue to mature and grow in a world that loves to point out mistakes instead of successes. Most importantly, children go through many stages of development before they are able to balance high self-esteem with equally important traits like humility, compassion and respect. These stages of development, if not nurtured properly, can tip the balance, creating the foundation of low self-worth. That is why, now more than ever, we have to be actively present in the lives our children.
I first noticed my daughter's low self-esteem when she started preschool at the age of 2. She found it difficult to express her needs and concerns with her peers, often playing by herself or moving away from a stressful situation. At this point I was not overly concerned. As an early educator I understood the importance of not labeling my child or jumping to the conclusion that "something is wrong." However, somewhere deep within my heart, a little tiny red flag popped up.
My daughter successfully reached her developmental milestones, even surpassing my expectations on an academic level, but my daughter's social/emotional development stayed in my radar. I noticed some improvement, but certain behaviors puzzled me. It took her such a long time to transition into a new environment, sometimes even longer when faced with an abundance of stimulus. What bothered me the most was how unsure my daughter looked even when talking to close family members. Often she covered her mouth or looked away when people from the immediate family, people she sees every week, asked her a simple question. She would start to speak, but when she realized everyone was starring at her, my daughter's voice would become softer until it disappeared completely. At the age of 4, my daughter's lack of self-confidence worried me. My little red flag had grown.
Family members, teachers and friends commented on her behavior. I knew Kindergarten was right around the corner and I couldn't help but visualize how she would navigate this whole new world. However, I knew a deep strength resided in her. I knew this amazing little girl could blossom into the powerhouse I see everyday. On any given day my daughter is a zookeeper, entomologist, veterinarian, marine biologist, writer, singer, actress, dancer, archaeologist, astronomer and chef. Knowing she had so much to offer made it easy to not become frustrated. Don't get me wrong, there were moments when I had to take a deep breath, but for the most part I focused on the positive. I knew my daughter, inside and out, and this knowledge helped nurture her self-confidence.
I started searching for programs close to home that would spark my daughter's curious mind. I looked for relevant activities, not activities I would enjoy watching her do, but activities she would care about. I searched for nature programs, anything that took place in the great outdoors. My daughter cannot walk one block without collecting artifacts and sharing her knowledge about insects, birds and plants. I was certain, no matter how unsure she felt, my daughter couldn't last ten minutes in nature without sharing her fountain of knowledge. I placed my bet, I took a chance, and it payed off.
We starting going to weekly classes, away from her normal structured day, which meant taking her out of her element. I stretched her comfort zone past the limitations of home, preschool and familiar play-dates. I took her to the unknown, a new class every week with new children and parents. New parks with different layouts, a whole new terrain. I took her to crowded environments filled with lots of stimulus, but I focused on the stuff she cared about like nature books in the library, the gardening area at Costco, the fishes at Walmart, the seafood section at Safeway, etc. My daughter's comfortable zone was stretched and pulled without causing her any anxiety. She didn't spend time thinking about what she couldn't do, she just focused on what she wanted to do and that motivation was enough. Before I knew it, she was asking the librarian how to find a book on butterflies, which lead to sharing that information with her nature class, which lead to running after butterflies at the park, which lead to other children running after butterflies in the park, with lead to the start of new friendships. Phew, all that from visiting the nature section at the library.
There were brief moments of self-doubt. My daughter refused to sit down on a mat during circle-time when we first started one of the nature programs. I calmly said, "The mats are a great place to sit if you want to see the animals up close." I kept my response brief and very matter-of-fact. There was no shame or disappointment in my statement. My daughter thought for a few seconds then sat on a mat. Circle-time began and my daughter sat quietly with a big smile on her face. Various animals were shared and my daughter was able to connect with the animals by touching them. When the teacher asked my daughter a question about herself she would respond with a shake or a nod, never uttering one word.Then, the teacher started to talk about the animals and she asked the group specific questions. My daughter's hand shot up when she heard the question, "How do bats find food?" The teacher pointed to my daughter and she shouted, "Echolocation. They use echolocation." From that day on she became a junior ranger, walking in front of the group during hikes and offering words of wisdom during circle. From that day on she answered questions about herself because she had been so successful talking about what she loved; nature. Each successful moment connected powerful links within her brain and replaced self-doubt with, "I can do it."
My daughter always loved nature and nature responded by loving her right back. Now, because of so many successful social experiences, my daughter uses her powerful voice during many different encounters. New situations no longer fluster her self-confidence. New people no longer paralyze her body with fear. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has commented on her new inner glow. Grandma said, "She's like a whole new girl." My friend, who hadn't seen her for a while said, "I went home and told my husband how confident she is." Comments like this feel me with joy. Joy for my daughter who has found her voice away from home. Joy for my daughter who claimed what should have been hers to begin with...pride.
Raising A Highly Sensitive Child
- Raising A Highly Sensitive Child
Highly sensitive children do not suffer from an illness or syndrome, they were born with a certain temperament, one that if supported, will develop into a healthy, happy and creative adult. Take a moment to learn some valuable tools.
Hugs Make Happy Children
- Hugs Make Happy Children
Hugs are powerful. Pure and simple. All you need are two arms and a lot of love. Your child can never receive too many hugs and the benefits that come from hugging your child make them all the more important.