What is Confidence?
A very wide definition with which most people may agree might be:
'Confident people are people who feel OK about themselves.'
For general communication purposes, this rather vague concept is quite adequate, but to the author of the book of "Confident Children : Help Children Feel Good About Themselves", Gael Lindenfield, there is a need to be more specific with the meaning of 'OK'.
When she started her work on 'confidence analysis', she found two fairly distinct types related to confidence: inner and outer. The inner kind is the one that gives us the feeling and belief that we are OK, whilst the outer kind enables us to appear and behave in a manner which denotes to the outside world that we are self-assured. And, because the inner and outer kinds of confidence support each other, together they make for something much more powerful and effective than the sum of their parts.
According to Gael Lindenfield, there are four main hallmarks which identify people who have a sound sense of inner confidence. These are:
• Clear goals
• Positive thinking
Whilst, people with outer confidence attained skills related to:
• Emotional control
Developing Confidence in Children - What is Super Confidence?
Gael Lindenfield describes super confidence as the kind of confidence which is constructed from all the components in both inner and outer confidence, and has some indefinable 'extra quality'. The additional strength and power of Super Confidence derives from the continual supportive interaction between its inner and outer parts.
Ideally, of course parents would love their children to develop super confidence before they leave they protection of their 'nest'. However, realistically, no one is perfect. And there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect method to raise children. Hence, the goal of giving a 'good-enough' measure for both inner and outer confidence - plus, very importantly, the belief that they themselves can build on these foundations and eventually acquire the 'super' version for themselves in their adult life is what we are looking for!
So now, let's look at a part in the inner confidence, and learn the books you can read to your child to help to develop it!
Gael Lindenfield, a highly respected psychotherapist and the author of nine bestselling books on developing self-esteem and emotional confidence believes that a good balance between inner and outer elements needs to be focused on when trying to lay down the foundations of confidence for our children.
Very often, certain parts get developed at the expense of others. Unfortunately, in many ambitious families and schools, for example, too much emphasis may be put on the outer confidence skills. It is interesting to know that Joe Kennedy, the father of the late American president John F. Kennedy would say to his children:
'It is not what you are that counts,
It's what people think you are.'
Perhaps, this kind of philosophy was in part responsible for his sons' problems in finding personal peace, in spite of their considerable skills in the area of outer confidence. There are also many outwardly successful people who have also learned to behave in such a cool, controlled manner that you would find it hard to believe that they are secretly wasting a lot of precious time and energy worrying about whether they will be liked or loved, whether they will be able to 'do it' or 'say it', wondering whether they have made 'the perfect decision' or kicking themselves for having hurt the feelings of an aggressive bully.
Hence, let's look at the first element of developing inner confidence - self love!
Confident people love themselves, and moreover, their self-love is not a well-hidden secret. It is obvious to the outsider that they care about themselves because their behaviour and lifestyle are self-nurturing. With this component of inner confidence children will, for example:
Retain their natural inclination to value both their physical and emotional needs and place these on an equal footing with the needs of others.
Feel quite justified in their attempt to get these needs met; they will not inwardly torture themselves with guilt every time they ask for, or get, something they want.
Be open in their demands for praise, reassurance and rewards and not try to manipulate you or anyone else into giving these indirectly.
Enjoy being nurtured by others and become experts at learning how to do this for themselves.
Feel proud of the good features and concentrate on making the most of these; they will not want to waste too much time, energy or money on their own imperfections.
Want to be healthy and so will (eventually!) take heed of the wisdom about brushing teeth, eating sensibly and keeping fit.
Not knowingly persist in doing things that will sabotage their chances of success and happiness or shorten their lives.
Nurturing Self Love
Gale Lindenfield believes that it is how we are nurtured rather than our inherited nature that is important to the development of confidence. And it is the quality of that nurturing which determines our ability to hold on to the previous sense of self-esteem we had at birth and build on our potential to become Super Confident adults.
There are 8 'nutrients' children need to receive in the course of building their confidence. One of the nutrients is - RESOURCES. Resources include books that help children to accept themselves and see themselves as valuable and loved.
Books to Encourage Self Love
(Click the title to learn more about the book)
Loving ourselves means that we accept who we are. This includes how we look. Especially children, it is easy to feel sad and low when what we are or what we have do not conform with what people 'look up' to in the society. For example, in Asian community, many believe that people with fair skin is beautiful and the opposite is ugly. Not only that, many also have the perception that having straight hair is blessed, and having curly hair is just not right.
This kind of thinking has been rooted in the society for quite sometime. Some people with dark skin or curly hair being called names and laughed at - simply because the way they look. This has to stop. Body shaming has to stop. Let's start this from our own family. We may not be able to change other people, or other people's children (except when they are our students), but we can always help our children to respond well to this kind of distorted way of thinking.
These books help to encourage self love in children, in a language children can understand.
Mila's Big Curly Hair, by Maslina Yusoff is a story about Mila who dislikes her curly hair. One morning, Mila wakes up and looks in the mirror - she is bald! And her hair keeps changing after that, brings hassles in her life!
What happened? And what Mila learned from this? You can find the answer in the book! This book will help your child to look at what she has as a blessing, and reminds her to be grateful with what she has.
Sang Gagak Panglima Raja is a book in Malay language, written by Nur Azmi Mokhtar and illustrated by Ida Sri Sulo. Sang Gagak is a crow who has low self-esteem. He keeps comparing himself to other birds, and thinks he does not have the look and capability as other birds do. However, something happens, and that makes him realize his own strengths and values!
Why Don't I Look Like You is a beautiful book, packed with educational messages for young children, by nature-lovers, Abyan Junus-Nishizawa and Farah Landemaine. It is a story about Timo, a baby Tapir who wonders why he looks different from his mother. His kind, and loving mother brought him to see a few other animals whom their babies do not look like them.
Instead of learning about animals, and the science of life cycles of animals, this book can help your child to appreciate his look too, especially when he does not look the same like you. We have prepared a worksheet to help you to talk about this further with your child, after reading this book. Get it HERE.
The Great Hair Exchange is a story about Roda and Bushra the twins. They are nearly identical, but there is one big difference between them: their hair! Neither Bushra nor Roda is very happy about that.
When they decide to change their appearances before heading to school one morning, a world of hilarious confusion follows them wherever they go! Will the chaos help the twins appreciate how God created them after all?
Another funny, easy to understand book by Asmaa Hussein, that reminds children to be grateful with what Allah blesses them with.
On top of loving and be content with how we look, we must not forget the importance of loving who we are. Many times, when pressured, we may lose ourselves - we sacrifice our belief or identity or family or maybe the language we use, just to blend in with others. Although it is truly OK, to respect and embrace the differences in each other, this shall not be at the expense of our own belief and principals. Nowadays, when there are many misunderstandings about Islam floating around, we shall not 'shy away' and doubt our belief, based on what people say. Instead, we have to be proud with who we are, and practice the true Islam, so that people can see the beauty of Islam. In sha Allah.
Nusaiba and the 5th Grade Bullies by Asmaa Hussein tells a story about Nusaiba, a third grade child who feels down after hearing a mean comment in the school hallway about what her mother is wearing. Through a fantastical journey of adventure and self-discovery, Nusaiba gains the confidence necessary to embrace her identity and stand up for herself. This is an exciting and engaging book about self acceptance and the importance of standing up to bullying.
The Colour Blind Boy by Mohammed Yaseen conveys strong messages to children about the beauty of standing up for others when they see something is not right. Abdullah moved from Ashfield to a small town in the north of England. He was nervous to go to the new school, and unfortunately bullies started to interfere with his life at school. Adam, a white 10-year old classmate stood up for him. Abdullah was pleased, but he couldn't believe that Adam was a Muslim, because he was white! Learn how Abdullah soon realized that he was also affected with the 'racism' kind of thinking. Fortunately, he soon learned that sometimes it's just the way we choose to see things and that is why we see them they way we do. Maybe if we look at them in a different way, they may not seem so bad after all..
A good book to remind children to not losing their own identity, but in the same time, need to learn to look at others positively, not allowing distorted way of thinking to influence them.
Speaking about being proud of who we are, the books in "I Can" series introduce and illustrate some basic and yet important Islamic concepts and terms for young Muslim children and show them that these good deeds can be practiced anywhere, anytime. Being a practicing Muslim does not stop a person to lead a normal modern life, and play an active role in the community. There are 5 titles available in this series:
My Amazing Super Power by Dr Anayasmin and Kabita Studio is also a good book to boost the confidence of young Muslims, for being Muslims. Young children love to imagine themselves having super powers - due to exposure to movies and advertisements. They may not realize that being Muslims means they can build those super powers in them! What could be the super powers? This book tells children about it in the language they can understand, through rhyming sentences and attractive illustration.
Loving ourselves and who we are can also include where we came from. Nowadays, for some children, they may feel ashamed or humiliated when they are not as wealthy as their friends, or when they do not own what their friends have.
The book of Longhouse Days by Jainal Amambing helps children to see that 'kampung' life, a life that may be looked down by some, is actual an enjoyable, fun life! The author shares with us his precious childhood memories, living in a Rungus longhouse, in the of north of Sabah. On top of the his own wonderful story, children can also learn about some facts about Rungus people, a sub-group of Kadazan-Dusun community in Sabah.
Being aware of where we came from, and grateful for the experiences we go through in life help us to accept and love ourselves.
Remember one of the characteristics of a person with self-love, mentioned above?
Maintain a healthy lifestyle!
"Want to be healthy and so will (eventually!) take heed of the wisdom about brushing teeth, eating sensibly and keeping fit."
These two books that come with audio CD will help children see and understand the importance of taking care of themselves, in term of physical health:
Healthy Foods Make Your Body Go reminds children to eat healthy and balanced foods. Healthy food is like 'gas' for a car - it powers its engine, so it would function effectively.
"Too much junk food makes you slower than a snail."
Brush Your Grizzly Bear Grin encourages children to do one of the most important routines in their lives - brushing their teeth! Parents know how important it is, yet it takes time to train a child to religiously brush his teeth, at least 2 times a day. This book may help you, in sha Allah.
Above are some of the books that can be read to children to help them to take care, love, and accept themselves, for who they are. Self love and self acceptance lead to gratitude, and feed self-confidence, in sha Allah.
We will keep sharing more books to boost confidence in children in other posts. Stay tuned ya!
If you find this post benefited you, and believe it may benefit others, please feel free to share it.
"A child who reads will be an adult who thinks."