Confidence is defined as: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed. It is also defined as: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him. As seen by these two definitions, confidence is a two way street. Confidence lies not only in the belief of one’s self but also the belief of those who have faith in our abilities.
I remember as a child looking up into the stands before a game and looking for my parents. I did this before every game and knew that when they were there, I had extra strength because they always reassured me that I could do it. They were a key component when I was developing my confidence in sports and life. Without their support I certainly would not have attained what I have in sports and or life. Because they believed in me, I was able to take more and more risk as I developed. I was able to gain faith in my abilities, and self assurance. I was able to develop these by taking tiny steps and progressively building myself up to meet bigger challenges as I achieved all the small goals I set along the way. It was a great feeling that whenever I stepped on the field, I had triple confidence because not only did I believe I could do it, but so did my parents. As far back as I can remember, I wanted my parents to be proud of me and was always looking for their approval in academics, athletics, and socially.
Confidence is a key ingredient in all aspects of life. The more confidence you have, the better chance for success. Confidence is a key topic when parents bring their children into our facility and one of the major benefits of participating in our program. After years of working with athletes and high school students, I have learned the following from my interactions with my athletes. This list is also compiled from my experience as a psychology teacher and coach..
1. Children want coaches, parents, friends, and family members to believe in them. They want you to believe in them and will often do what you ask of them if you allow them to do it. Often when I was a teacher or coach, I heard parents at parent night confess to me (with their child present) that their child was lazy. When they would say this, I could see instantaneously the wind leave the child’s sails. What a terrible thing to hear your parents say to someone they have only known for a few minutes. Just imagine how you would feel if your spouse or friend would introduce you as being lazy. I would be pissed to say the least and probably want to deck the person who introduced me. Just think if the parent would have introduced their child like this instead. My son is a talented student when he is focused and engaged in the lesson. He is still learning how to keep himself motivated on a consistent basis but with the right guidance, he should be highly successful in your classroom. By stressing the positives and also addressing some of the issues that need improvement, the child has the opportunity to fix the short comings. By framing the response, it also allows the teacher to not have a negative perception of your child. If I were to describe to you myself as lazy and non enthused, there is a good chance you would look for these poor character traits. Since you are looking for them, whenever I would do anything that would fall into these categories, you would reconfirm your negative impression of me. People often become what you label them. If you label them an underachiever, they become one. If you label them a winner, they become one.
In the gym, I often have parents describe their developing child as slow, weak, small, or wimpy. Not sure about you but this is pretty much the description for anyone who is still developing. It is also the reason most people come to me for guidance. More often than not, the big, strong, fast, and tough individual feels as if they don’t need the extra work. I have never met a child who was between the ages of 8-12 that was built like a 23 year old man. It is tough enough growing up in this competitive world without someone you admire and respect putting you down. Use this opportunity to tell the coach or teacher that your son is a motivated worker who is very coachable. They do a great job on the field and have pretty good skill. Once they are able to grow into their bodies and increase strength, gain a little weight, and further develop, they should be an animal. I have witnessed parents use this strategy and the child looks up at their mom or dad and knows that they are well on their way with all this awesome support and love. What a great motivator knowing that your parents are next to you providing you the opportunity to improve yourself both physically and mentally.
2. Show some vulnerability!!! We weren’t always big, strong, tough adults so let your child know this!!! On a personal level, my confidence sways pretty consistently. I consider myself and expert in the strength and conditioning field and self improvement fields. Do I feel confident that I can take apart my car engine? Hell no!!!!! I’m the last guy you want fixing a car. This is unless you want to spend extra to fix what I screwed up. Let your child know that you weren’t’ always poster child of confidence. Tell them of instances that you weren’t confident and how you had to learn, build, and overcome some of your fears. Give them some advice on steps to take to improve uncertainty. If I go back to the car example, I could let them know how I went to a friend who I trusted that could repair my car’s engine. When I went to get help, I learned a few tricks from him so that next time I could possibly try to repair the vehicle myself. This is a great way to empower your child and give them some problem solving strategies. Life is interdependent so what better way to build social skills, feel good about yourself, and get the job done by asking a friend for some help. I don’t know about you but I always feel good when someone asks me for my expertise and help. Try it and see what happens!!!
3. Tell your child you believe in them and how much you love them!!! I don’t know how many times a day I can tell my kids I love them. If I’m walking down the stairs or when I leave for work, I always tell them I love them and how much they mean to me. I often will toss my son the ball and tell him he’s a stud and how much fun I have seeing him catch the ball. I know that I always feel good when someone gives me a compliment. After I lost my parents to cancer in high school, I thought I was worthless because I had lost my mother and father. Who would want someone like me. That was until my coach’s parents took me in. My grades had slipped and I was unable to immediately go to college because of this and I was at an all time low. I knew that I once had great academics but because of my circumstances, they had fallen. I was consumed with helping my brother take care of my parents so I missed a bunch of school time. It was very disappointing that whenever I would read a news paper article regarding my life, they would make a point to emphasize my poor academics at the time. Every time I would read the articles I would further condition myself and think I wasn’t smart or capable.
My coach’s parents helped me restore my confidence. For those who know me well, you know the person I am writing about. My coach’s father, until this day, whenever he sees me he says “what’s up stud.” I don’t know why, but I always get big smile on my face. Even as I write this, I am smiling. After I lost my family, this man and his wife took great care of me and believed in me. With their guidance, I was able to go to prep school, junior college, and finally Muhlenberg College where I was able to graduate with tremendous grades, become an All-American Running Back, and earn a spot in their athletic Hall of Fame. I would have never of had the confidence if these people didn’t believe in me and tell me I could do it.
So often it is easy to pick out people’s weaknesses. I know that I am someone who is able to identify my own on a consistent basis. I know this isn’t a trait that’s exclusively reserved for me. If confidence was easy to have, I wouldn’t feel the need to write about it. Next time you’re about to pick out someone’s weak point, failure, or shortcomings, stop yourself. Ask them how they think they did and most often than not, they will tell you what they did wrong. After they tell you, let them know what they did right and how you will work on the areas they need to improve together. Not only will it be fun to help your child reach their goals but it will be time well spent.
A good friend once told me that if you don’t love your children, someone else will. If you don’t believe in your children, someone else will. If you don’t take care of your children, someone else will. After teaching and coaching over a decade, I believe this man and have seen it first hand. Unfortunately there are many people out there who you probably don’t want around your children. They will have an interest in your children and they prey on the weak and those who lack confidence and esteem. I read about it in the paper everyday. Street gangs, drugs, and other negative influences are just around the corner for all of us. That’s why it is so important to work as a team and create the environment that is conducive to the outcomes we wish to achieve. Iron sharpens iron, and man sharpens man!!!!
Have a great week and keep smashing!!!