What Contributes to Low Self-Confidence?
Often when we think of a student at any age who has low self-esteem, it is easy to correlate the obvious situations that instantly come to mind. Low self-esteem seems to set off a red flag that may indicate suspected forms of abuse that the child may be dealing with. More and more we also hear about students being exposed to trauma. Trauma can range from witnessing an extremely violent situation or a student who has parents going through a divorce. Regardless of the severity of the trauma, this also goes hand in hand with a student experiencing low self-confidence.
We must also realize that just because a child is suffering from low self-confidence, it doesn’t automatically mean that they are being abused. In fact, we should not instantly jump to conclusions because there are many factors that could lead to low self-confidence. Sometimes negative relationships that students have with their peers can impact their self-esteem. As educators, it is important to be in tuned to the conversations and relationships that take place within our classrooms. Keeping an “ear” and an eye open to this will ensure that others are treating their peers the way that they want to be treated. This will hopefully eliminate any negative relationships from forming within your class.
Students also are impacted with low self-confidence when a lot of attention is drawn to body image. Fitting in with others is huge for every student. When as a society we are surrounded by unrealistic type images of what we “should” look like, it is easy to feel as if we don’t have the “ideal” body type compared to others. This often destroys a student’s confidence when they don’t see in the mirror the body that is plastered on magazine covers or on YouTube. Students have an unrealistic mindset of how their body is supposed to look, which impacts their confidence tremendously, especially in the adolescent years.
Students also may suffer from low self-confidence due to feeling as if their schoolwork is too challenging or they may set unrealistic expectations on themselves and strive to get perfect grades on every assignment. While it is great to have a desire to do well, students must also realize that they are not superhuman. It is important that students know their limits as well as teachers must point out the positives with our students that go far above academics. Pointing out great character traits that a student possesses helps them feel as if they have worth and value outside of the classroom. This is beneficial to help develop students into well-rounded citizens as well.
Teaching Strategies to Build a Confident Student
As students work on building self-confidence, one way that educators can assist with this is to have students create obtainable goals. Students shouldn’t just randomly come up with a goal. Listening to a student’s concerns and struggles as well as helping them through the process of creating an obtainable goal will make the goal more meaningful. By writing the goal down it becomes something less likely to try to avoid and becomes more realistic when actually seeing it in writing. Monitoring their goal and giving them ownership in the goal may actually encourage them to try harder to obtain the goal that they have set.
Something so simple as giving students positive feedback can truly go a long way. The more positivity that a student may hear, the more likely they are to begin to believe it, as well as feel better about themselves. This is something that should be incorporated into every single classroom, regardless of our students’ ages. Positivity goes a long way!
Confidence Building Activities to Try with Your Students
As with every situation that occurs in our life, there are things that we can and cannot control. When reflecting about peers that students are around, this is something that educators can somewhat control while the students are at school. Pairing students up in collaborative groups, knowing their personalities and who gets along well with others will help crate successful groups and build off of positive relationships. From day one of school if a teacher has the mind set about the type of classroom community they want to build within their classroom this will allow the students to know from the very beginning that negative peer relationships are not tolerated.
When any age student is in a teacher’s presence and a negative comment is overheard, it is an easy task to have students replace their negative comments with a positive comment. The more negative comments that are said, the more likely someone is to feel that way about themselves. By replacing negative comments with positive comments, this will hopefully change the thought process and build confidence. Often students who have IEPs with behavioral goals have a plan in place to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Making a consciences effort with positive statements sometimes helps when building confidence.
Self-confidence can improve when students are part of something. Encouraging students to join a club or a sports team can build self-confidence at it gives students a sense of belonging. Working together with peers helps build positive relationships, as well as thus gives an overall assurance of being accepted by others. Being part of something is a good feeling!
Reflection is a huge factor when we think of ways to grow. Reflecting on the day and embracing all the positive things that happened ends the day on a positive note. Writing down one thing that you are grateful for each day begins to build a positive mindset. Sometimes negative thoughts may seem to take over and rereading all of the things that have been a positive each day may be enough to build confidence in yourself.
Just like anything that is difficult to work through, it takes time and practice to overcome a tough situation. Building self-confidence doesn’t happen overnight. We shouldn’t overlook the idea that building confidence breeds success! The more that educators instill this in our students from day one that they walk through our classroom door, the greater amount of higher achievers and self-confidence we may have.