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Self-Confidence and Involvement in Activities

We, as parents, want our children to grow up healthy, happy, and self-confident.  It is easy to determine what steps we can take to foster health:  proper nutrition, regular medical exams, regular exercise, etc.  Fostering happiness can be somewhat more of an enigma, but we know that valuing our children as individuals, communicating our love for them, and letting them feel truly “heard” are some of the many components to fostering happiness in our children.   Fostering self-confidence similarly can be a bit of an enigma.  In this article, we will address one element of self-confidence and how it is developed.

Self-confidence is, to some degree, a learned trait.  That is to say that we generally start with some degree of uncertainty.  Can I do that?  Am I capable enough to accomplish that objective?  When we attempt the accomplishment, it is our success or failure, and the feedback that comes to us as a result, that determines whether our level of self-confidence is bolstered or diminished. 

If a third grade boy tries out for pee wee football and is ultimately chosen for the team, the boy will learn that he is strong and capable in this context.  He will subsequently interact with other youth, who will hopefully become his friends.  This will reinforce a hopefully pre-existent concept that he is a good person and worthy of friends.  As his football prowess grows, so will his assessment of his own capability.  Thus, by participating in football, his self-esteem has been bolstered in multiple contexts.

If this same boy tries out for soccer and is not chosen for the team, the feedback he receives as a result of this perceived failure will determine the effect of this event on his level of self-confidence.  For example, if he receives feedback that he did very well . . . he was just a little smaller than the boys that were chosen for the soccer team (He was, after all, one of the youngest boys trying out.) . . . he may thus feel encouraged (he did well for his size and age), which bolsters his self-confidence.  Conversely, if the feedback he receives is critical in nature (“You performed very poorly.  What’s the matter with you?”), then his self-esteem will diminish.

Thus, we can see that involvement in activities can contribute significantly to children’s development of self-confidence.

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