Encouraging Self-Confidence In Kids

The post below was written by blog guest author Lynda Wilcox.

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I was a Girl Guide (Girl Scout) Leader when I started writing Chamaeleon: The Secret Spy, trying every week to instill the ‘Do Your Best’ ethos of the movement’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell, into girls aged between ten and fourteen.

Some of them were supremely confident in themselves, effortlessly making the often painful transition between childhood and womanhood. Others, not so much. And then there was Lauren, a girl so crippled by self-doubt that, no matter the activity, her constant refrain was, “I can’t do that.” From Lauren’s point of view it was a simple statement of fact.

In my book, 13 year-old Kel is also racked by self-doubt. Recruited as a spy – a job for which he is perfectly equipped because he can disappear against any background so that no one can see him – he is sent to infiltrate the forbidding Grey Keep and destroy the enemies deadly new weapon. Kel has the ability, and the training, to accomplish the mission but he lacks the confidence. And will continure to do so until such time as he is tried and tested.

Lauren was gently encouraged to try, at least try, those things she had convinced herself she could not do. I felt sure she had he skills, only the confidence was lacking When she was twelve she came on an adventure holiday – and only reluctantly left my side to do anything. I began to despair that the child would ever overcome her fear – and I was convinced by this time that Lauren’s problem was simply a fear of failure – until the day we went to the climbing wall. This state-of-the-art affair moved upwards as you climbed, you could alter the speed and the angle making the climb as easy or difficult as you wanted. The girls in the Unit sat on a semi-circle of benches surrounding the wall as, one by one, their friends climbed up.

“I can’t do that,” said Lauren, standing limpet-like at my side.

“How do you know?” I asked. “You’ve never even tried.”

“I just can’t.”

Her eyes scanned the wall with both fear and something else. Excitement. She wants to do it, I thought. “I bet you can,” I said. “In fact I know you can.”

“Can’t.”

“Go on, then, try. And prove me wrong.”

Hesitantly she approached the wall, grasping hand holds before placing her feet on the narrow blocks. “Slowly,” I silently mouthed to the Scouter operating the wall. He nodded and it began to move. “Go, Lauren,” I encouraged.

The rest of the girls took up the chant. “Go Lauren, go Lauren, go, go, go.”

Cheered on by her peers, she positively scampered up the wall, reaching out with her hands, feeling with her feet, until she was within inches of the top. “What do I do now?” she called.

“Carry on. Keep going. You can do it” The Scouter gently increased the speed and the rotating wall carried on rising. “I did it!” She was back on the ground again and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the shining eyes and the beaming smile on her face.

“Yes Lauren. You’re the girl who can,” I told her. “And tomorrow you can do kayaking.”

“Great. Can’t wait.” With a smile she rejoined the rest of the girls all eager to congratulate her.

And Kel? Does he overcome his self-doubt and lack of confidence? You’ll have to read Chamaeleon: The Secret Spy to find out.

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More from Matthew:

I like how Lynda illustrates a real life example of how she helped a child sorely lacking in self-confidence obtain some by encouraging her to accomplish a goal. That is the real way to build self-confidence in children and in adults, for that matter.

In reference to the novel, I was intrigued by the part of the description of Chamaeleon: The Secret Spy that says the book is set in medieval times, but contains a mixture of swords and lasers! In addition to that, I was also impressed by the cover art. The artist did a good job of a difficult task, illustrating how a character can blend into his surroundings. This is the cover below. You will have to click through to see the bigger size on Amazon to appreciate the detail.


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