Thursday, August 6, 2009

Helping Students Build Their Own Self Confidence

In Self Confidence- The Key to Success from TutorFi by Meaghan Montrose, she states,

“What makes a successful student? This is an important question for many students (and their Self confidence is key to the success of a student. It is the ability to believe in yourself and have faith that you can be successful. Everyone, even adults, needs to believe they can be successful at a task in order to succeed. If you have doubts, your actions will reflect those doubts and you will fail.”

Then Meaghan gives a “ few ways to build the confidence of your child to help them achieve greater success in school and life in general.
1. Acknowledge the positives.
2. Avoid negative talk.
3. Emphasize victories.
4. Seek help when needed.”

These are great ideas for parents to do to help their child. But I would like to give some strategies to help the child build their own self confidence. I once told a student, who had been disappointed over and over by a parent, that he had to stand on his own two feet and learn to help himself now. But how could he do it without the self confidence he needed? I will use the same suggestions that Meaghan gave but explain how the student needs to view them.

1. Acknowledge the positive – It is hard to acknowledge the positive because many of my students feel that they don’t deserve it. Sometimes it is hard for them to even notice the positives. I try to point the progress the student has made and have the student compare this progress to what they did previously. Eventually they are able to do this on their own.

2. Avoid negative thought – I had my students write “I Am A Born Winner!” on all of their papers they turned in for a grade. When they voiced a negative thought, I had them say this phrase aloud. Over the years they had been convinced that they were lazy and stupid because others had said so. Now they needed to show their brains the truth. It would take time, but many of my students said this made a difference in their lives.

3. Emphasize victories – Many of my students were embarrassed by their victories. They had to learn how to celebrate the good times in their lives when they accomplished things. They needed learn that it was alright to take pride in what they had done. The students learned to cheer for each other. They had to learn how to appropriately acknowledge this and what to say to others.
4. Seek help when needed – My students felt like seeking help was just another acknowledgement that they were stupid. I showed them examples of famous people and successful people who sought help some time in their life and still do when necessary. They needed to learn that anyone who is successful knows that seeking help when needed is how to be successful.

Original image: 'Shaun Set For Takeoff' by: Drew Brayshaw


gail said...

Great read for anyone working with disadvantaged youth. Somewhere along the way, the stakes became so incredibly high that students who were not able to take advantage in the moment were left out in the cold. They failed more and more often and saw an insurmountable mountain of failure and guilt before them. It's never to late to change that mountain into something more manageable. Building a strong sense of community, acknowledging best effort and eventually success, keeping the stakes lower in the short term, and carving out learning activities in manageable chunks can do a lot to improve the confidence of anyone. Imagine if you will a peer teacher, one who has never blogged, even commented on a blog. Suddenly they are asked to create a teacher blog. The mountain before them will look like a disheartening challenge. Now tell them they will learn to do this by following a carefully laid out set of steps where they will, over time, learn to do a number of tasks in a way they can handle. They will be able to work with peers who will be challenged as well and together, they can reach the goal.
A student should be able to begin the process wherever they need to as long as it brings them to the learning goal.
Thanks for the post. I enjoy the time for reflection it gives me.

loonyhiker said...

@gail Thank you so much for taking time to leave such a thoughtful comment! It really helped to put things in perspective.

Sanford said...

To help students, we must understand how they think and build from there, stressing the basic principles. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.

karim said...

Very thoughtfull post on self confidence.It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Creating Power