By Jess Burnett Founder of Mind Traction, Mum of 3 and Secondary School Teacher
Self-belief and self-confidence are two topics that are often lumped together.
I like to separate these two concepts because they each have a place, a purpose, and a vital role to play in helping our children achieve their true potential.
To understand the separation and distinction between the two concepts, consider these questions:
- Have you ever thought about starting a business and had the self-belief that you could do it, but lacked the self-confidence to start? The doubt probably crept in because you were worried about what others might think if you failed on the first attempt.
- Have you ever wanted to apply for a promotion, again having full self-belief that you could do the job? But, you never applied because you lacked the self-confidence and didn’t want to be judged by your peers.
Children experience self-belief and self-confidence in the same way. A child may have the internal self-belief in their ability to learn or complete a task, but lack the self-confidence to take action and give it a go. There’s no surprise that, more often than not, this lack of confidence stems from a perception and fear of peer judgement. Perhaps more upsetting is that many children lack even the self-belief to get started or consider taking any steps towards learning a new skill at all.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you want a motivated child, who is driven and committed to trying new things; a child who can step out of their comfort zone to achieve goals, then you need to check out this article (and join my Mind Traction community!):
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Self-belief increases a person’s mental, emotional and physical strength. A child with a strong sense of self-belief is far more likely to possess all of these traits and live life to their full potential.
In this article, I will focus primarily on self-belief, the first and most critical step required for achieving self-confidence. An article dedicated entirely to self-confidence will follow soon, so keep an eye out and subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss it!
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Right now, we will delve into the benefits of promoting a strong sense of self-belief in your child and consider some easily actionable ways you can do that in your everyday life, starting today!
So, what does it mean to have self-belief?
- Believing you can
- Trusting you can
- Knowing you can
(Self-confidence, on the other hand, is about showing you can!)
We want our children to do all of the above. We want them to perceive themselves as capable, competent beings who possess the courage to take risks and strive towards their goals. No one ever wants their child to be the one sitting in the corner, too scared to get involved and have a go!
Self-belief is about having a strong sense of self-awareness and connection to one’s inner-self, which is what drives outward action. It is about having the ability to tap into and intentionally train your subconscious mind to believe in your skills, regardless of any external forces which may try to fill it with doubt.
Have you ever watched your child look longingly at something like a piece of playground equipment, a new bike, or a craft/hobby kit, but instead of trying it out they say things like, “I don’t think I can do this,” or “This seems too hard to try.” They were initially excited at the idea, and they knew it could be fun, but they talked themselves out of trying. I’ve been there, and it was heartbreaking to watch my little ones give up before giving themselves a chance! When this happens to our children, it is their negative subconscious mind and lack of self-belief at work, and we want to flip this. We need their subconscious mind to tell them that with hard work, practice, the right strategies and support, they can do anything!
In a world filled with doubters, negativity and the dreaded influence of social media, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that we develop a solid sense of self-belief in our children as early as possible. A child who lacks self-belief will have their chances of reaching their true potential drastically limited. It is the internal perception of oneself which provides the force and power to lift a person to achieve their goals and reach their dreams, particularly when things get tough. We don’t want our kids to quit, give up, or, worse still, not even start. By building self-belief early through everyday events, experiences, and the interactions we have with our children, we are ensuring that they may have every opportunity to achieve their success.
If you are still reading this article, then you are likely resonating with the importance of developing self-belief in your child. Perhaps you have realised that your child lacks self-belief in one or more areas of their life, or maybe you have recognised that it is not something you have ever intentionally taught and worked on with your little person before! The good news is that self-belief (like many of the necessary traits of a success mindset) can be taught anytime, and it is never too late to start.
A person’s quality and quantity of self-belief are not fixed or set in stone. It is developed through experiences and surroundings, both features of a child’s life that, as a parent, we have significant control over.
Children build their perception of themselves based on the way they are treated and spoken to by the people around them, the places they visit, and the digital content they consume. These external inputs can send empowering or disempowering messages to our children about their abilities and their potential, and that can drastically impact their mindset, which ultimately shapes their life path, purpose, and goals.
We need to be intentional about the messages we are sending to our children. The things we say and the actions we demonstrate determine the subconscious beliefs of our kids. Off-the-cuff comments such as “you’re just not good at maths” or “our family are all overweight, that’s just the way it is” are examples of phrases which are often heard from well-meaning parents but have the negative impact of reinforcing self-limiting beliefs. No one is perfect, and I’ve been guilty of these types of remarks myself, but the good news is that neuroplasticity allows our brain to re-wire itself. So if you are reflecting and recognising that perhaps you have made some statements over the years which have potentially attributed to self-limiting beliefs, then do not fear, we can reverse them!
We can train ourselves to use positive self-talk daily and teach our kids to do the same. We can be intentional about the language we use when conversing with our kids and avoid phrases such as “I can’t…” or worse “I can’t because I am not…”. These types of sentences give the most limiting self-belief imaginable as they provide no opportunity to try. These statements imply that you already believe that you never will! When you combine “I can’t” with the words “I am” you are making a statement directly about yourself, your identity and who you believe you are. Don’t forget; children are little sponges soaking in everything we do and say!
On the flip side, we can reverse these phrases and choose words such as “I am unable to do that right now, but I will practice, and I will learn.” We can teach our kids to use positive self-descriptors such as “I believe I am kind,” “I believe I am strong,” or “I believe I am brave.” When our children hear statements of this nature regularly, it becomes engrained in their sub-conscious. They learn that their potential is unlimited, and the beliefs placed on them by others does NOT need to restrict them.
We need to teach our children by demonstrating that we can do anything we set our minds to, and even if we don’t have the skills yet, we can learn. If you would like some more support with this, check out my FREE 6-Part Video Mini-Course: Cultivating a Growth Mindset for Busy Parents.
The drive and commitment to learning come from one’s internal motivation and self-belief. This is what ensures that a child has the resilience to keep going when they hit roadblocks. When there is no self-belief, a child will lack courage, avoid challenges and be fearful of failure. They will be anxious and scared of being judged, and it will be near impossible for them to go on to develop self-confidence.
Inspiring self-belief in our young people is not always natural, and we don’t always get it right. But, if we make an intentional effort to ensure the words we use and the actions we demonstrate don’t limit their belief, then we are on the right track to raising children who will achieve their dreams.
So, if you happen to catch yourself this week saying, “I can’t,” remember, you always have a choice – either you choose to, or you choose not to.
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