How to grow your child’s confidence
One of the toughest parental jobs is teaching our children to be independent and resilient. Pauline Abbott explains her thoughts on correctly preparing our children to excel in life.
Protecting children from life’s hardships is a natural and powerful instinct. Yet at certain stages, this instinct must be curbed to allow children to build their resilience. My experience as a teacher has shown me first-hand the pitfalls of sheltering children. Growing up is difficult and the world can be a cruel place. Children not prepared for this reality often struggle to adjust as they grow into adults and this why we must temper our instincts to shield children from everything.
The key to developing confidence and resilience in children is teaching skills that enable their emotional intelligence to grow. Some of this happens naturally. It’s the point when we let go of the saddle and children keep the bike upright. Or we let them swim on their own or walk to school with their friends.
If we didn’t allow these “leaps of faith” where children take responsibility for their own safety, then they will never grow. The same is true of intellectual matters. For busy parents, it’s often easier to fill in the application form or complete the homework for the child then it is to teach them how to do it themselves.
I see this all the time in my capacity as a teacher. Passive education in which children are told information is far less powerful than giving them the tools and freedom to explore subjects and themes themselves.
A new approach to learning
It is this mindset that led me to create Child-Led Collective Worship (CLCW). This is a theological education programme which allows school children to manage their own class-based worship, exploring important themes such as trust, responsibility, and tolerance.
The difference between these child-led sessions and traditional worship is profound. Not only do the children retain the information more effectively, their confidence and self-reliance grow significantly because they are in control of their own education.
The lessons of CLCW apply to all children. If we give children a framework for education backed by the freedom and trust to manage it themselves, we help them grow as people. Yes, children need the guiding hand of a parent or teacher, but by teaching them to take responsibility for their own education, they gain innumerable benefits.
Teaching children is a perpetual balancing act. Give children too much freedom and they can drift. However, give them too many restrictions and protocols, and they fail to engage. My starting point is with child-led worship, but the principles are the same. Allowing children to take an active role in their education makes them stronger, more confident and more resilient to whatever life throws at them.