There are plenty of ways to help kids feel more confident
By Jenna Tarrel
Have you ever felt scared or nervous? About eight months ago, I was trotting on a horse named Toby. Toby is a chestnut brown boy with lots of spirit and kindness. He spooked for some reason, and I felt really scared.
When he spooked, I fell off of him. I landed on my ribs, and it hurt. I took deep breaths and calmed myself. Then, I mustered up a lot of courage and got back on Toby and rode. I still felt a little scared.
It is really hard to be confident after you have been scared. Here are some things my friends shared with me about confidence. Lorna says being confident means “believing in yourself without worry or stress.” Kate believes confidence is important “so that you’re not stressed and you’re calm.” Lorna agrees. “Without self-confidence, everyone will be having a very bad life and not live happily.”
My friends say that people can become more confident by telling themselves they are really special and what they like about themselves. “Look on the bright side of yourself and not on the dark side of yourself.”
It’s important to learn how to be confident and to help your friends be confident. When you feel nervous, try exercising and jumping jacks. Take deep breaths. Help your friends solve their problems and ask them questions to feel more confident.
Kate and Lorna share that their parents and friends also help them with confidence. Kate says, “I look up to my mom. She always helps me through times that can really hurt me.” Lorna says that “friends can witness what happened and might be able to help.”
My mom also had some advice about self-confidence. “Talking about things with someone helps her to feel better,” she says. “I would talk to my parents about what was bothering me. I would try my best too. Accomplishing things is one thing that helped me feel confident. I learned to believe in myself!”
My mom says that if you or a friend are not feeling confident, you should think about all of the great things about yourself or help a friend to do that. Also, do activities that make you feel good.
She says the best thing you can do is learn to believe in yourself. “I am really good at this,” she says people should tell themselves. “I can do this. I can be better at this. I can beat this.” She says writing it down and reading it can also help.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, other people won’t believe in you,” my mom says. She says it’s hard to be confident all the time and that even she is not always confident. “I think being a parent is one of the toughest jobs out there. You can’t study a book and be an A+ parent. You have to try your best and believe in yourself. Also, find the people who inspire you to be confident and let them be your role model.”
I spoke to a psychologist, Nadine Maxner, about self-confidence in children. Nadine believes that confidence is extremely important. “Confidence and self-esteem allow us to make decisions and be critical thinkers so that we do the best things for ourselves.”
To help our confidence, Nadine believes we should surround ourselves with friends whom we have things in common with and focus on things we enjoy. “Participate in activities that bring out your strengths. Your confidence will develop from that.”
She has a fantastic piece of advice to help children be confident. “Be yourself and always be true to yourself despite the pressures from the world,” she says. “This means being passionate about what is important to you. Do things that bring you joy.
“Also, surround yourself with a support group who can help you in good times and bad.” Nadine says it is a good idea to practice the things you are not confident in. “Practice being brave and getting through scary things.” Gaining self-confidence is difficult. “Gaining self-confidence is a process,” Nadine says. “We are continually learning through our life experiences and this helps us to gain self-confidence.”
I have an activity that can help you to gain confidence. This is an exercise that was taught to my class by my teacher, Mrs. Cobean, to be confident in ourselves. Every day when you are at home, look at yourself in the mirror and say something nice about yourself to yourself. It may seem hard at first, but it will get easier as you go and help you to be more confident in yourself. Here is an example that I like to tell myself. “Jenna, you are beautiful inside and out.”
It was a long time until I rode Toby again and trotted on my own without a lunge line or my teacher holding onto Toby. When I finally did, I felt happy. Now, I always feel confident about riding a horse. This took me a while, and it was tricky to get my confidence level up, but I worked hard and I did it. I know you can be confident, too.
Jenna Tarrel is a Grade 4 student at Bedford South School. When Jenna is not horseback riding, she is a Sparks helper and a Girl Guide. She plays the harp and violin. She loves exploring nature and playing with her two cats, Carla and Stanley.