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Be Confident
Be Confident

Be Confident

What does it mean to be assertive? How can a person gain self-assurance, how can we convey assertiveness to children and adolescents?

When I investigated this question, I came across a quote from Peter Lauster: "The truly self-assured (person) does not always have to be superior. He can see the other people without fear. His values are not affected by the other (persons) responses". (“Selbstbewusstsein kann man lernen“ by Peter Lauster. Available from Amazon, only in German language.

That means, I am without fear, I am not afraid of other people’s responses (Have I got it right? Am I well received by others? Did I make a mistake?). I am not dependent on other people’s approval. I am capable to make my own decisions without applause or other people’s enthusiasm.

And no matter what the others say: I can stand up for myself and don’t allow others to influence me with their reactions and interference. I am self-determined.

That does sound logic. Yet, in the daily life, we encounter times over unconsciously situations where we may not react as confident. We may even allow others to influence us. In such situation, it would be worthwhile, finding out what we are afraid of and why we seem unable to encounter other people without fear.

How can we convey confidence to children and adolescents?

A small child totally depends on the help of the adults (father, mother, grandma, grandfather, etc.) in its life. Without their help, it will die. Over time, however, the child will learn to walk, to talk and to think for itself. Depending on how the child progresses, the opportunities it is presented with, the child will develop strategies to learn, comprehend, inquire and how to respond. And last but not least, it will execute these skills accordingly to what it has learned so far.

While the required help decreases, independence, and the reassurance/experiences being able to do something by itself, increases. The child learns not to depend on others. Therefore, it is paramount that the child or young person has plenty of opportunities to make their own experiences. Regulations, rules, and paternalism narrow this scope of experiences. Doing everything and literally wrapping the child and even more so, the young person, into cotton wool does not serve their development. There is no room to grow, to experience and exercise self-confidence.

Accompany your child/young person and serve him as an advisor. Only intervene if it is necessary. Let it also make its own mistakes. Important is the following:

  • Don’t instill fear in the child. (fear of failure, fear of negative reaction)

  • Offer positive critique that gives the child/young person the chance to make a different decision.

  • Avoid situations/feedback where the child feels obligated to do something for your sake. That the child has to please you to get your approval.

  • Show the child that you have confidence in it. So it can learn to trust itself, try out new things, become independent and relying on itself.

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