Amazon sells over 100,000 books on “parenting.” Think about that for a second: over 100,000 books to help us become better parents, and most of us still need help.
We are adding an “academic parenting” section to our blog, and we’re starting with “academic self-confidence.” Twice a month, we will include two practical ideas to help your children or you. We’re not going to drone on about reading books or doing homework, obvious advice that you’ve heard too many times. We will give you suggestions that matter and that many people miss. We have helped over 20,000 families at Lafayette Academy and we’ve seen it all. We want to pass on our most important lessons to our families, and we hope that you share this with your friends.
We are starting with academic self-confidence (not self-esteem) and optimism. We are choosing academic self-confidence because self-esteem has been overdone and self-confidence may be more helpful. Before you go further, please answer this question: how would unwavering self-confidence have impacted your childhood or one of your siblings? Can you think of specific moments that would have gone differently? How can you help your children become more self-confident?
One way is to encourage them to overcome their own obstacles when you know they can do it. Here’s a shocking idea from a learning center owner: instead of immediately hiring a tutor when your child gets a bad grade, encourage him to figure out what went wrong and what he needs to do to correct the problem. Perhaps he only needed to work harder or she made careless mistakes. Then, go with whatever your child suggests so she knows that you have confidence in her. If it doesn’t work out, there’s always a plan “T.”
Some students may be too dependent on tutors and this has unconsciously impacted their self-confidence. I think our generation is more resourceful than our children’s because we didn’t have tutors (and Google) to solve our problems. Resourcefulness is a huge confidence builder for me and I suspect many of you feel the same way.
It’s no surprise that most of our highest achieving students have tremendous academic self-confidence because they consistently solve their own challenges, sometimes alone and sometimes with their peers. Some of them set up their own tutoring appointments (imagine that!) and feel more accomplished when the appointment they made goes well.
Self-confidence obviously comes from doing well, but it grows rapidly when people overcome obstacles. Many successful entrepreneurs have unwavering self-confidence that has helped them overcome many obstacles to achieve their success. Many of these people were not born with silver spoons in their mouths and are optimists.
Optimism is a hard trait to instill in your child. Most optimists are innately positive, including many successful entrepreneurs. Do you think Steve Jobs ever doubted himself or the ultimate success of his products? Instead, you hear phrases like “she is a born optimist” or “he has never hesitated to take on a new challenge” to describe optimists. So what can you do if you don’t have an optimistic child?
Step one is to take an honest look in the mirror. Are you and your spouse optimistic people? Even though it is obvious how much our behavior consciously and subconsciously impacts our children, few adults regularly consider the behavior they model for their children. If you want your children to evolve into optimistic adults, you can start with your own optimistic behavior. Here are a few more “professional” tips:
- Model optimistic and positive self-talk. True confession: I often berate myself in front of my children, so do as I say, not as I do.
- Direct your children towards activities that rarely include “bad days.” I am always happy and confident on my bike, and rarely optimistic on a golf course.
- Find easy exercise routines that you can do with your children. My life has been scarred by my failures in aerobics classes. 🙂
- Involve your children in random acts of kindness. Positivity leads to optimism and vice o versa.
Thanks for listening.