How to show confidence without talking about ourselves

If telling everyone how great we are, or putting others down does not show confidence how can we show confidence?  How do we make ourselves feel confident without making someone else feel worse?

We show our confidence by our body language, standing tall, looking at the other person in the eyes, speaking with a clear voice, expressing our needs in a clear manner with a tone that tells others that we believe in our statements.

We show our confidence by our stepping up with courage when a situation needs to be made right.  We are not afraid of what others might think.  We have morals, values and ethics that we are willing to stand for.

positive_quotes_compliment_people_147From another point of view we show confidence by our willingness to ‘build others up’.  A confident person is not afraid to give sincere compliments to others or to express appreciation for what they have done or what they do.  Helping others feel good about themselves, and helping others feel good about another person, demonstrates a lack of fear, that someone may appear “better than” ourselves.

I especially like this point.  One of the things we teach at Balanced Life Skills is that the strongest leaders are ones who are willing to submit themselves to others by asking, “How can I help you?”.   Our willingness to help others improve themselves, to prove themselves, and to feel good about themselves is a demonstration of our own self-confidence.

The science behind why anyone brags

When one person puts another person down by pointing out a weakness or making them feel “less than”, the confidence level of the recipient takes a hit.  When a person looks in the mirror and puts themselves down by focusing on what they have come to believe to be a weakness, their confidence is lowered – not improved on.

In trying to make up for not feeling confident some resort to pretending to be something that they are not – bragging or boasting – to make themselves feel “better than” or in an attempt to make the other person feel “less than”.  We see that kind of behavior in kids with one upping another child.  I scored 10,000 points on such & such game and the next kids say I scored 15 K and on and on.  We see it with kids feeling superior due to where they go to school (private vs. public), where they went on vacation, what they did this weekend, and the list goes on and on.

moms-braggingWhen it comes to adults and parents especially, we live in a culture in which most parents strive to raise ‘star’ children and convince everyone around them that they are stars.  They do this by gushing about a child’s accomplishments, how smart they are, how athletic, how beautiful they are.  Why do people – kids and adults carry on with bragging?   That answer in a moment.

How else does bragging show itself?  It might be shown on the purchasing of material things just to impress others (whether they can be afforded or not).  Keeping up appearances by this kind of activity is no different than speaking the words that are exaggerated to impress others. Still others may take actions to get the attention of others – to impress them with how brave or awesome they are – simply to prove the “better than” superiority.

So whether it is talking to no end about their non existent achievements, spending money to prove how well off they are, or pointing out the weaknesses of others – all of this is bragging and results in lowering the confidence of those that are targeted.  Oh yes the question WHY?

In 2012 a Harvard study found that sharing information about ourselves triggered the same sensations in the brain synonymous with eating food.  So talking about ourselves is rewarding.  In fact, it was found that 40% of what we talk about is our own thoughts and feelings.  So now that we are aware of what and why – the real question for us to consider is, How can we make ourselves feel confident without making someone else feel worse?  How can we make others feel more confident and spread those confident feelings around?

Thoughts on this question this week.

Tamir, Diana I., Mitchell, Jason P. “Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding.” Cambridge: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012. Web:

5 Reminders in dealing with diminishing confidence in children

Bullying at school pic

A child’s confidence can be diminished very quickly when they become the target of mean behavior or words.  One of the worst things that can happen to a child is being made feel “less than” by others.  This is many times the results of others talking about them, making sly comments, or being made to feel unwelcome or not a part of the group.

As this kind of behavior can be directed to anyone, especially a young person, we want to encourage them to be sure to speak up to adults and ask for the help that they need.  Along with that,  choosing friends that are not taking part in that kind of behavior is a good idea too.  Many times though, this is not enough.

As an adult, if a child comes to us with these kinds of situations, we can be confused about what the right thing to do might be.  There is no one answer to that question, as every situation and child needs to be worked with individually.  However, there are a few things for us to remember and not all of them are easy.   Control of ourselves and our emotions is key to do what is best for our children.

First, we must remember this is our child’s situation and our place is to protect them, but not take the problem over as if it is ours.
Second, what the target of this kind of behavior needs more than anything from us is to know that we understand their feelings.  So before you start getting all the details, be sure that you give your child as much time as they need to express themselves. (this is the hard part, because parents will want to jump right in and fix it)
Third, find out what your child would like to see happen and what they want to do or what they think might help the situation.
Fourth, help them weigh out their options, choose one and then practice it with them.
Fifth, follow up with how they are feeling, how it is working and what they want to do next.

Nobody has the right to make anyone feel less than or unworthy.  We have to understand though that bullying behavior is going to take place until we are able to create a culture of kindness and peace in our families, schools, and communities.  Having a ‘zero tolerance’ policy does not work in any community situation.  Changing culture of the community, where those in the community stand up and say – in our class, in our school, in our community – we do not treat each other in that manner, is what does work to eliminate confidence reducing behavior.  Are the teachers in your school making this the norm for the classroom?  The confidence level of your son or daughter may be at stake.

Anyone in our community that is dealing with a situation like this may consider working with a bully prevention expert like Joe Van Deuren at Balanced Life Skills.

Building Confidence in Children in 5 Easy Steps

parenting confidenceThere are so many negative messages around and directed at young people, especially from those surrounding them, like the media they see and read, and the messages they hear from adults and friends.  How can we as the adults in their life help them develop a positive, confident  attitude while teaching them how to do the same for themselves?

Focus on the good things that they are doing, identifying their unique strengths and expressing your appreciation for those strengths.  It is easier for both us as adults and them as students to quickly see the faults or the things we would do differently.  Seeing the good will help our children to do the same with themselves and others.  This is not about over praising them, rather an acknowledgment of their unique qualities.

Focus on learning and thinking critically as well as creatively.  Encouraging our children to learn to think and learn with open minds makes a powerful difference in their life and how they feel about school and learning, building their confidence in themselves.

Take care of the physical health.  Encouraging our children to be active, by being active ourselves, eating in a healthy manner, all lends itself to feeling positive and confident.

Having a mission and setting goals, both as a family and as an individual gives us something to look forward to and work towards.  As you meet your challenges and work through them your confidence increases.   Working this together as a family helps our children to feel good about themselves.

Give back to others.  Helping others not only helps us have gratitude for what we have, but it also gives us a great feeling, knowing that we were able to assist someone else.  Confidence comes from seeing the accomplishments of our services to others.

The messages we send our children every day has an effect on the feelings they have for themselves.  Are they proud of who they are, the way they learn, their physical health and what they are doing to maintain it, do they know where they are going and why, and are they showing gratitude for all they have and give to others?  Doing these things makes every child and adult feel positive about themselves.

Building kids confidence to think on their own

How-to-Boost-Confidence-of-Your-KidWhen our children are young, we as parents are making all of the decisions for them.  What they eat, wear, what they do, where they go and who they are playing with.  As they get older they need to start thinking and making more decisions on their own.  Having the confidence to think on their own, make choices and use their verbal skills to express themselves tells us that they are growing up.  Unfortunately, much of the way classrooms are taught is not encouraging critical or creative thinking and the same may be true in the home.

There are some experts that put the blame on a change in culture – with all of the attention on the amount of media and the internet that young people are exposed to and seem to be addicted to.  However if we as parents and teachers are inclined to tell youngsters what to do and what to think and not teach them how to think about what they are doing – we end up with students who are not creative or able to think through why certain behaviors are better for them than others.  They expect for others to tell them what to do – and they expect that if it doesn’t fit their model they will fight about it.  Here are two suggestions to get that critical and creative thinking going.

1.    Expect students to explain their opinions – Everyone of us has the need to be heard and we want others to know what we think and feel, including children.  As parents it is important to hear our children, but we should also expect that they explain to us how they came to these opinions. Having them explain – we will hear some very interesting thought processes – but that is important, so we can demonstrate other points of view.  Working the conversations in this manner will help them use their brain to think of other options.

2.   Demonstrate for them how to think and to be creative – Not all answers that we come up with are going to be the best answers, they may not be what is best for us or others, they may not be safe or fair.  This does not mean that they are not answers, this is about being creative.  When a difficult decision needs to be made, allow all of the answers to be heard – no matter how far-fetched and then think and talk through the positive and negative aspects of each one.

What does this have to do with confidence?  Confidence comes from our ability to think, to see things as they are – not more or less difficult than they really are.  Confidence comes from being able to be creative and come up with solutions that may not be expected.  Teaching our children to think – critically and creatively will go a long way to building their confidence.

Practicing confidence just like my students

handshake2This is rather personal in that I am guessing that most people that are acquaintances, would never guess this about me – unless I told them.  I find it very hard to walk into a room with people I do not know and quickly start up conversations and be comfortable.  Are there others in our community like that?

It is interesting that as I am talking to students about building and demonstrating confidence – this is certainly one area that is a weakness for me personally.  So this week I told the students about my weakness and reminded them and myself that “confidence comes from competence & competence comes from practice”.

Our practice this week was getting the words right and practicing introducing ourselves to each other.  Then just to work on our courage, some of the students went up to adults in the studio (who are parents of other students) and practiced introducing themselves to them.  They did a great job.  Good eye contact, firm handshake, using the correct words.

Even when we sometimes feel unsure of ourselves when we are around people we do not know,  practicing and putting ourselves out there is courageous and powerful.  My next time to practice is Tuesday September 16 when I will be at the Board of Education Breakfast to listen to the new School Superintendent.  I must practice what we have been talking about in our classes.