Confidence Builders

Confidence Builders for kids

Confidence Builders for kids: Building confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone. We all need more confidence – young people, people at risk, and new parents just to name a few. Confidence can come in many ways. ProudParent believes in experiential learning. Learning through experience or through doing. Hands on learning.

I personally have had a great experience and a privilege of having been involved in the Boy Scouts of America program for the past ten years and watched as my son has grown through the program. He started as early in the program as a scout can – as  a tiger scout in first grade. He progressed over the years to achieve his Eagle scout rank by the tenth grade or at the age of 14. Along the way he learned many different skills, had the opportunity to camp in a variety of situations and environments such as zero degree weather in the snow. And, he took advantage of every leadership program BSA had to offer. He gained quite a bit of confidence with each meeting, each rank advancement, each position he held, and each campout he experienced. First as a patrol leader and then a senior patrol leader (while leading a troop of 35 other young men), followed by many roles within the scout program. Mastering fire building, safe knife and fire arm use and leading Court of Honors as master of ceremonies were other great steps. If I listed all the activities and confidence builders here the list would go on quite a bit. But, I think you get the picture.

However, what you might not know is what also happened in my life. As an adult volunteer, I had the opportunity to learn and grow through confidence builders as well. I began as the Tiger den leader them moved onto the Cubmaster (Cub scouts). Once my son “crossed over” to boy scouts I too transitioned into an Assistant Scoutmaster roll. I learned or re-learned many things along side my son. I also lead groups of people, planned large events, and got to know so many new and different people. The secret is that I feel I received so much out of the scout program even if my son was the one to reach Eagle Scout. You definitely get so much more out of the program than you put in.

What I remember about the whole experience is the before and after view of my son. What a difference. What great confidence building experiences.

Giving & Creating A Confidence Builders Atmosphere

Confidence Builders: By building confidence within a child many wonderful things happen. The wonderful part of the Scouting program was its focus on it being “boy lead.” The adults are there to create a safe place for them to operate. One of the first things they teach adults (mainly the Scoutmasters) is the Scoutmaster stance. They ask you to put your hands  out to your sides. Then slide your hands into your pockets. Yes, it is a bit tongue and cheek, but it IS the stance. No matter what is happening in the meeting or the campout, the adults should be in the back watching. Watching to make sure all is safe. The meeting will not be organized and the campout will be behind schedule. BUT, IT IS THERE PROGRAM. They learn by doing. They learn hands-on. The trial and error is a great teacher. They are safe, because the adults make sure of it.

Let me give you an example: The troop is organized into  patrols. Usually the patrols are by age group. Each patrol is responsible for coordinating their own meal plan and deciding who will bring what. So, what happens when the cheese for the macaroni and cheese is forgotten? Answer: the scouts eat noodles only. This is a big lesson. A lesson for the scouts and a lesson for the parents that want to step in a “fix” everything. First, the scouts won’t starve. Second, they WILL learn from it. They will figure out their communications or get a plan that it does not happen again on the following campout. Now take this example and multiply across all kinds of things that can come up on scout meetings or scout campouts and you will get the idea of how valuable these hands-on experiential learning opportunities are.

The learning is far accelerated from that of the classroom or at home where the child is “told” everything. We learn by doing. My point is to utilize this in your home. Create a safe environment. Communicate to your child what the plan will be. That you are there to keep them safe. That you are on their side. That you will allow them to try things out and fail if that is the result. Set the right expectations. Give them examples of Thomas Edison or Michael Jordon whereby they tried thousands of times before they succeeded. In fact, Thomas Edison’s view has been stated that he felt he learned over 2,000 different ways how not to make a light bulb.

Find out what your child is interested in. Then find a way to create a safe environment for them to try it out. Adjust the environment as needed to keep it safe. Burning cookies or the pizza as they learn to bake or having the fort fall down as they are trying to build it is not the end of the world. It is the beginning of them learning about theirs. And, about them building confidence by learning how to do the things they want to do.

Start small if you have to with projects that can be accomplished more quickly. Also, give them the perspective that once they master something they can teach another. A really great acronym used in scouting is the EDGE method. EDGE stands for Explain Demonstrate Guide and Enable. So, once they learn something it is fully engrained in them once they teach another. They can explain what to do, demonstrate it, then allow the other person to do it while they guide them, and finally allow that person to do it on they own. And, POW, you have it. Confidence.

Be Positive

There are many ways to build a child’s confidence. The examples above are just to help get you thinking about this as a building block to open the door to so many other positive experiences with your child or any other. A word of Caution: It is so easy to be critical isn’t it? All under the umbrella of “helping” a child. An adult may be critical because they are “trying to help them learn.” Somethings criticism is not what they need at all no matter how constructive it is supposed to be. As mentioned above, create a safe environment, give them some instructions and allow them to fail then succeed on their own.

I don’t want to leave you with the feeling that we Scoutmasters do not train the boys. In fact, after the elections for their different positions training is held so they fully understand how to participate in their role (such as patrol leader), how to communicate, and what to do. What usually transpires in young men, however, is that they tend to not listen or not absorb what is being presented. That is where the doing leads to failure that leads to success comes in. In our troop the Senior boy scout gets weekly meetings with the Scoutmaster to prepare for the next meeting. However, during the meeting the Scoutmaster will let the Senior lead the meeting regardless of how successful or not it is going. He then circles back during their next get together and talks about what happened and how to make it better. This is part of the safe environment process. The Senior leader learns directly from the adult, but is not called out in front of his fellow scouts at any time.

You can do the same wherever you are. Everyone can and does make mistakes. Are you going to dwell on them? Are you always going to punish for them? Or are you going to create a positive environment to learn and grow confidence within the child. It is a big difference. Remember, create a safe environment, create a structure of coaching and learning, then give them an opportunity for hands-on learning (experiential learning).

Also, take the long view of all these learning activities. In Scouting we get to see the boys go through this process over a period of about 4 years. We watch as they enter the program at 11yrs old (typically) and are Eagle by 15yrs to 18yrs old (depending upon how active they are in the program). During this time we watch them grow physically from young boys into much taller young men that no longer fit their uniform (pants are 4 inches too short Tee hee). But, we also get to see them transform from boys that hate to stand up in front of their pears into boys that are leading their troops Court of Honor with a room full of parents during a fairly important ceremony. And doing it with Confidence.

Wrap Up

There are many programs for youth that can have this effect. I have boys, so I described Boy Scouts. However, there’s not only the scouting program, but there are many different types of programs. The real point is to 1) know what a huge building block confidence builders are and 2) work it into your daily lives – create circumstances for it, and 3) be positive. Once you have your safe environment, and your coaching in place let them experience the activity without you pre-judging the results. Cookies can burn and hot dogs can fall in the fire. It is ok. One of the first things we are taught as Scoutmasters in the Scouting program is the Scoutmaster stance. What is it? Hands in your pockets. That means let them do it. What it really means: Let them build their confidence.

Kids are great. Love them. Guide them. Let them know they hold great value. Great value to themselves and to others. Create a safe environment where they can experience the world around them – fail – learn – grow – and love others: All through a strong sense of self-esteem and self-confidence.

Remember to pay it forward.