My son was a very anxious boy this morning. He is playing in the school team this evening in a deciding match for the league title and he is scared!
As a mum it’s all to easy to say ‘don’t be ridiculous, you’re a great player’ and leave it at that, but if your child is really worried about something or lacking confidence then surely there is a better way to help them that just offering reassurance?
Well thankfully there is! Confidence is based on perception i.e. your child’s own idea of whether they feel they can do something well or not and like us all, confidence can be diminished through ‘bad’ experiences. And when I say ‘bad’ the experiences themselves may not necessarily be bad but the meanings we take from them may be.
So your son is anxious about a match or your daughter feels scared about doing her Show and Tell – how can you help them?
Two ways really and both very simple and incredibly powerful.
The first one is to get them to ‘rehearse’ what they are going to do in their mind and talk them through it with as much positivity as possible. Make them feel incredible and make sure that every detail is positive and that the outcome is a success.
Not only will this boost their confidence as you are doing the exercise but it also programs their mind to do what they have been ‘rehearsing’ too! So when they stand up in front of the class or get in front of that goal, their mind goes ‘ah right, I know what I need to know now’ and more often than not, they will get the results the practiced.
However be realistic. Don’ set them up for failure! You son will probably not score 10 goals even if he is up front and not in defence! The idea is to get them to focus on the skills needed to get the results they want and to program their minds for success and remember what the mind can see you will achieve – so if your child focuses on failure (which is probable if they are worried) they are more likely to fail. So get them to always focus on what they want from this moment on (and you too!)
To help them feel more positive towards doing this and the following exercise, mention how all the top sports personalities carry out this exercise and how it improves their game/race etc.
Another great way of boosting your kids confidence (which can be incorporated with the exercise above too) is know as the confidence switch. This is quite simply setting up a physical anchor which when ‘fired’ produces feelings of well being and confidence in your child.
So how do you literally turn on a confidence switch? Well the first thing you need to do is decide what the switch will be (a good place is a knuckle on one hand, the back of the hand or even their nose) and ensure you keep this ‘switch’ and that the pressure used is the same too i.e. press the same place all the time and with enough pressure to register the touch but not too much that it’s obvious. Also once this is set up the switch needs to be something that you child themselves can access themselves if and when they need it. So discretion might be key.
Once you have decided where the ‘switch’ will be then you need to set it. So get your child to remember a time when they felt really great, perhaps when they scored a goal previously or when they were doing something they loved doing such as dancing, singing or simply a time when they felt really great – perhaps playing with friends or on the rollercoaster!
Get them to close their eyes if they want to (it’s ok if they don’t want to) and get them (with a little help from you) to talk through the positive experience as if they were actually reliving it again. Ask them what they see, what they hear and ask them to really focus on how great they were feeling and as you know yourself, when you focus on happy memories those old feelings flood back don’t they?
So when you see that your child has associated into those feel good feelings (it will be very obvious with a child when they are!) simply touch their ‘switch’ for roughly 10 seconds. Then stop.
Get them to go through the memory again maybe this time bring in more details or try another memory. Again get your child to really focus on all that they remember and when you see them accessing those happy feel good feelings again, anchor them by touching their knuckle again.
Do this a couple of times at any one go – don’t overdo it as your child will get fed up! Do it again with them the next day or the next to ensure that their confidence switch becomes more powerful.
However one of the best things about the confidence switch is that your child doesn’t even have to know what you are doing! You can get them to focus on happy memories whilst you anchor these feelings by touching their hand (in the same place and the same hand!)/knuckle/nose in such a way that they are unaware of what you are doing.
Also every time they are feeling happy, confident or at ease with themselves you can simply top us this switch by touching their knuckle for a few seconds.
You need to go this exercise around 4 – 8 times and then try out the switch. Get you child to focus and then flip the switch and ask (and watch out for signs) them what they noticed? Keep topping up this confidence switch – whenever you child is doing something they are enjoying, when they tell you about a fab goal they scored at school or how they did this incredible dance move – just switch that switch. The more you do this the better the result.
They will be delighted with their new weapon of mass construction! So give this a go – it’s easy to do and will make your child feel so much more confident and in control. Furthermore, the more they use this switch the more likely the behaviour is to become a natural part of who they are.
I will keep you posted on the result tonight!
Take care and speak soon!!!