Best Way to Coach Children into Greater Confidence

  •  Achievement is never disloyal. Eduardo may leave his friends if he goes into a “streamed” class, but he is betraying no one. By being different, he is constructing new visions and possibilities for everyone. Li’s parents could tell her they are proud of her achievement. Cultural transitions are highly complex, but a parents acceptance of some change and integration goes a long way with a child.
  • Never believe other people’s negative views. Eduardo has difficulty showing each teacher his credentials. It is discouraging to have to keep proving himself, but Eduardo’s father could remind him, “I said you could do it, not that it would be easy. Other people will doubt you, but each time you prove yourself, you have reason to know that you can do it again.” The message is that the recurrence of these challenges should increase his confidence.
Child Greater Confidence Best Way to Coach Children into Greater Confidence
  • Minority status is never an excuse to fail. There are many reasons why achievement takes more effort and requires more support for a minority child. Parents can acknowledge this: “I know it’s hard, and I know ifs harder for you than it should be,” we might say. But all children have to try, learn, and care, about themselves and others. Eduardo’s father could say, “If you give up on yourself, then prejudice has won a great battle. You may fail, because anyone can fail, but that is not a reason to stop trying.”

As a child’s difficulties are acknowledged, and as a parent offers support for her continued efforts, the message is: “If it’s harder for you, ifs that much more a triumph when you don’t give up.”

  •  Overcoming prejudice is a personal triumph. Eduardo’s father can register his son’s frustration at others’ prejudice, while reminding him that he is achieving something important when he resists it.

If a parent coaches a child in these ways, he offers a structured pep talk whose purpose is not simply to comfort or cheer a child up. This type of conversation frames the difficult experience of prejudice in positive ways. With this coaching, prejudice can be identified as a problem that demeans others, never the child at whom it is directed, and sets her a challenge she can continue to meet through her life.

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