A Helping Hand with Creating Confident Kids

Last night as we snuggled in bed, she whispered quietly about how the kids were excluding her from the game, shoving her out of the circle and oh it broke my heart.

My own childhood memories came flashing back, I wanted to rush into that school yard and sort things out, but alas no, that’s not going to help her build her own confidence and be a courageous and resilient person.

So last night we had to talk about confidence, about standing up for yourself and speaking up, being able to say what’s not ok… it’s never an easy conversation when ALL you want to do is wrap them in cottonwool and cuddle them, protect them from everything, but that’s not life and it’s certainly not going to help them in the years to come.

Our kids have to learn their own lessons, their way.

It is our job to be there to support them on the journey.

So thought I’d share some of the steps we take towards helping our children be more confident.

1) Listen
We may want to go straight into fix it mode, problem-solve and sort it out. Focus on listening to their version of the story, not letting your own memories gate-crash the discussion and overwhelm the situation. Listen word for word how they’re describing what is going on…?

2) Acknowledge
Never overlook the power of acknowledging where they are at and what they’re experiencing. It’s not to say you KNOW how they’re feeling, because actually you’re not in their shoes and your experiences may have been different, likewise how they’re experiencing it may and will be different, because they’ll have their own unique experience of it. However it’s good to say “Mmmm, get that experience could feel or be…..(insert their words – not your version of it). Read where they’re at ‘upsetting, frustrating, make you angry etc.

3) Connect
Make sure you’re using their language – not interpreting emotions and adding to it. Use their language back to them, because otherwise you may pre-suppose they’re feeling something their not, or add fuel to the fire, when it’s really not necessary. Elevating the intensity of their feelings isn’t great. Keep it calm, quiet conversation.

4) Empower
Help them realise they have choice around how to handle things. Bring up words like courage, being brave, asking for help and speaking up. May be useful to add a story about someone (you possibly without it being “when I was a child …. this happened to me”)… tell it like it’s a story about someone else, and how in a similar situation they did XYZ to help a friend or deal with a situation. Keep it simple, again quiet tone (not a big brag fest or drama queen moment). Make sure the story has the ‘resources’ you want them to have to help themselves, ie. how this ‘other child’ was courageous in speaking to a teacher, or kind hearted or assertive. Use clear, simple resources your child can recognise and relate to.

5) Action
What steps COULD they like to take? Not SHOULD – keep the should’s out of the conversation altogether. Make it about choice, possibility and options around the action they could take. “If you were able to be calm and courageous tomorrow, if this same game is played and you get excluded again, how could you handle the situation differently? What else could you say? What else could you do? What other action could you take?

6) Possibilities
Let them come up with the answers ‘mmm, ok, good and what else…?’ is about all you say here. Please let them come up with options and choice. This is key so they learn that life is not black and white, that there is only one way of doing things, a good or bad way only, there are a few different way this could play out. In your mind, you may have 100 answers for them, however let them exhaust their possibilities firstly, then perhaps add only one or two other options.

7) Outcome
Here’s where you check-in and ask them ” how would you like it to be instead”, “what is it you’d like to be happening?” This is where you get them to articulate “a successful / ideally positive outcome” for the situation/experience. If they use the “I don’t want them to be mean to me anymore” – then great – that’s their language, help them flip it by saying “what would you like instead?”, … I want to be included and part of the game… so then, help them choose their own course of action.

8) Support
Ask if they would like or need you to take any action or help out? No rushing in on the white horse to save the day. However be the support person. “Am here to listening and support you. Is there anything else you would like or need me to do?

9) Recognition
Here’s my favourite part of empowering confident kids, recognising their success at opening up to you, sharing how their feeling and considering the course of action. Whether that course of action takes days, weeks or never happens, at least being able to talk about it and how they’re feeling, what’s happening is key. Ideally you check in days or weeks later and recall the conversation and say “remember you mentioned that school yard thing? How’s it going now? Have you noticed any changes? (this is to pre-suppose there has been change and that the child took action or has felt some internal change around the situation/experience or event even from having the conversation with you may have created some change).

Trust this is useful. It seems a long process written out, however these are the steps we use and they are golden.

Please let me know how you go.

Keep listening and loving.

Genevieve & The rest of the Matthews Family xx


P.S If you’re needing some help with your morning school routine, check out the School’s Coming Routine Kit here.