On Confidence

Self-belief, or self-esteem, is one of those intangible factors that can transform a child. When I consider how students grow in confidence throughout their time in school I ask what it is we are doing to ensure every boy believes in himself and what more could be done.

“The belief in oneself and one’s powers or ability.”

From the very beginning of their time at school – which for some pupils is 3 years old in Kindergarten – it is vital that we encourage the development of self-confidence and recognize the harmful effects of low self-esteem.

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We must strive to provide an understanding of the meaning and purpose of life beyond the classroom.  On a daily basis teachers should adopt a number of approaches to aid this development of self-esteem, all of which are easily replicated in everyday life outside of school.

Be Yourself: Encourage each pupil to ‘be himself/herself’ and not compare or contrast oneself with others. Find the unique thing that makes each pupil an individual and encourage confidence in that trait.

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Focus on the positives: In most cases people are particularly good at concentrating on their own mistakes. We should encourage our children when they make a mistake to look at what they have learnt and how they will do it better next time.

Having purpose: Feeling good about oneself comes from doing something to feel good about. Being kind and actively serving others promotes a sense of value and purpose. Positive self-esteem is grounded in the action of doing and understanding the difference between “I want to…” and “I am beginning to…”

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Pupils, especially teenagers, need continuous active reinforcement of all these elements as they develop their own sense of self. If we can equip them in their formative years to believe in themselves we will have given them a confidence that will carry them through their adult life.

Robert Robinson MBE has been headmaster at Campbell College, Belfast in the UK since 2012. The article first appeared on his blog on the College’s website.