In today’s video blog I wanted to chat about the language we use around our children when they are not feeling confident. I see it happen so often. A child may be in a public space when her parents and unexpectedly she is confronted with an unfamiliar person, or even someone she knows but hasn’t seen in a while – and then completely shrinks up.
Sometimes the child is innately timid. Or perhaps the child is usually super confident. But in that moment they are caught off guard and they do not want to greet the other person or even look at them. And then what do we do almost automatically? Without thinking, and in the most well-meaning way, we might say something like: “Oh, it’s ok. She’s just shy”. But think about the message that sends to your child!
When she repeatedly hears you saying to another person that she is SHY there is a high chance that she will incorporate this into her self-image. And after a while she is going to think of herself as a shy person.
What should you do instead?
The trick is to simply add the words: “right now” to the end of that sentence. Say something like: She’s just feeling a little shy, right now. Soon she will be feeling more confident”. By doing this, you are classifying her behaviour as temporary. As something she can be – and not who she is as a person. By adding the words “right now” you are implying that she can also be very confident at times.
What does it mean to be brave?
Related to this is the way we talk to children about what it means to be brave. When I ask children this question, they usually answer: “it means that you are not scared”. But for me, this is too simplistic an explanation. The way I see it, it’s not difficult to do something when you are not scared to do it. The essence of being brave means that you are really afraid of doing something and then you muster all your courage to make yourself do it anyway.
It’s important that our children understand that it is not the confident and extroverted individuals that are brave, but rather those that are scared and face their fears!
Those are my thoughts on the matter anyway. What do you think? Please leave your thoughts and comments below – I would love to hear them.