Build on Competence.
Confidence does not simply mean I feel well about myself. It is not merely self-esteem. It is not only an emotion. It is a way of living that shows that I value myself, that I take myself and my gifts seriously and know that I have something to contribute. As the motto of Saturday school says, I believe in ME.
When working with students who report on the MyScore that they are 1 or 2 out of 5 in Confidence, we need to step back and ask- maybe its a bad day. In the moment, this is what the child is feeling, but it may just be a bad hair day. Do not presume beyond that. But if over time, we see the low scores pop up consistently, then we need to ask ourselves-what in this student’s life can help build a more valued sense of self. And the answer is to build confidence based on a sense of competence.
They are confident because they experience themselves as achieving, as accomplishing, as being valued for the contribution they make. That means in a program or classroom setting, we need to ask what opportunities does the student have to shine, to be able to see back the value of what they have said, or the question they have asked or the assistance they have given.
Confidence should not be considered alone or as a static quality of personhood but a feedback loop. The student who reports low confidence is most likely operating in a low confidence culture or network, where there is little validation happening, or the opposite, that the culture is very critical, very reactive to mistakes or to miscues. A low confidence student might be hanging out with a negative crowd. Or something has knocked their sense of self, failing a test, or not being selected for a team, or not being allowed to express themselves at home because of a censoring and criticizing climate.
What can i do to create a confidence network for this student? Can I show them that I have confidence in them to achieve, to assist, to support. Can I task them with some special role? Can i encourage them to express their views, or be creative in other ways where they are not competing with others for attention. Can we even show them what it looks like by the way we show up? Confidence is one of those attributes that are easily passed on through a positive infection. Think of the kids jumping off a pier and one kid is afraid, but seeing the fearlessness of the others and the joy on their faces in the water, they are determined to show the same daring. Confidence can be caught more than taught.
If we can build opportunities for competence and recognition, we can build a students sense of confidence.