27 January 2009 01:36 PM

Building School Confidence

by Dr. Rick

Nothing in school breaks my heart more than being with students who have the skills and opportunities to be successful but just can’t seem to get going because they lack a critical component – confidence.  Just as skills and opportunities can be developed and nurtured, so can confidence.


Students can nurture their skills and opportunities by studying hard, going to class regularly, taking good notes, organizing themselves, hanging out with friends of similar goals,  preparing early for tests, turning in assignments, persevering, putting forth effort, becoming involved in school life, balancing school and “real life,” and getting academic help early when they need it.  (I’ve written about each of these in previous blogs.  See the archive section to read them in detail.)


Same goes for confidence.  It can be nurtured, developed, and supported at home.  The good thing about confidence is that it grows with each little success.  The trick is to recognize those little successes.  There’s been research that shows that people who regularly recognize, acknowledge, and feel gratitude for small and large daily successes  have healthier levels of confidence than those who don’t. 


They needed a research project for that?


So, students, how to kick start your confidence?  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Stop worrying about what others think.  You can’t control what other people are thinking, but you can control what you think.  Besides, you know what they’re thinking?  They’re thinking about themselves, not about you.  Really.
  2. Be positive.  If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I’m a huge believer in staying positive, if for no other reason than life’s too short to waste it feeling low.  Stop putting yourself down.   
  3. Develop good relationships.  Stay away from negative people.  Choose friends who believe in themselves and support you.  Have some “study buddies” with whom you can talk over difficult assignments, prepare for tests, challenge each other, ask questions, and clarify difficult lessons.  It’ll boost your confidence to be able to help others and get your own questions answered.
  4. Set goals.  Don’t settle for little ones, but be smart about them.  Break them up into manageable steps so you’ll notice and feel good about your progress.  Put forth your best effort.  Persevere.  Don’t try to multitask – you’ll only get tangled up trying to do too many things at once.  (You can’t give 100% to more than one thing at a time unless you’ve miraculously discovered some way to change the laws of physics and mathematics.)  Allow your study buddy to help you to stick to your goals.  Do the same in return.  Learn from your mistakes rather than being defeated.
  5. Build your skills and knowledge.  The more skillful and knowledgeable you are, the more confident you’ll feel.  The more confident you feel, the more skills and knowledge you’ll accumulate.  It’s a beautiful cycle.
  6. Evaluate your goals periodically.  How are you doing?  Be realistic with yourself.  Celebrate your successes.  Determine to improve where you need to improve.
  7. Do “positive self-talk.”  When you need it, talk to yourself to remind yourself of your achievements, good efforts, progress toward your goals, and all the things you’ve done to improve your grades.  It’s helpful to keep a journal or informal log to keep track of these things.  Read it to remind yourself of your good efforts, especially when you’re feeling down.
  8. Watch your body language.  How do you present yourself to the world?  See yourself as others see you.  Do you make eye contact when you’re talking with others?  Do you show respect and interest by listening carefully and responding?  Do you speak calmly and thoughtfully?  Or do you mumble, look at your shoes, pay little attention, and talk only about yourself?  The Golden Rule always works.
  9. Be yourself.  Who else could you be?  Accept who you are, but keep improving  to make you the best you you can be!
  10. Stay committed.  Don’t give up.  Persevere.  As you begin to notice small but steady improvements in your grades, your skills and knowledge, the quality of the friends you hang out with, your behavior, your confidence, make sure you acknowledge them, congratulate yourself, and let yourself savor them for a few moments.  Feel proud.  Feel grateful.  These moments will sustain you, and they’ll become more frequent.

Remember, you have the ability to improve your confidence.  Don’t give that power to others.  Protect it, develop it, acknowledge it, appreciate it, and share it with others.  Success breeds success.  That’s a promise.


What have you done to improve your self-confidence?  Share your success stories with us.  We’d love to hear.  Just click on “comment” and tell us what worked for you.




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