I finally put on my show the other night, performing a solo concert. The evening started out terrifying. As my voice amplified on the mic for the first time, I could hear it tremble. My body was sweating, even though I caked on my deodorant. Then, midway through my first song a wave of calm and a feeling of “I got this” started to come over me. After my second tune, I told my first funny story about how I met my husband at Jewish singles event. I shared that he was working the event as a musician and I was looking for a husband. When I heard everyone laugh, everything felt right.
I’ve always had little confidence, never thinking I was smart or talented enough. When I worked at my last Corporate job, my boss, who could tell I was struggling with feeling inadequate, quietly asked, “What happened to you?”
I’m not really sure. It could be my upbringing or just my genetics. It’s easy to blame my parents for it all. They never encouraged my singing, when I desperately searched for their approval. But they did the best they could, and lord knows I will need the same pass when my kid grows up. I forgive them and myself for waiting till the age of 42 to finally start performing. Better late than later!
After this last show, I am convinced that confidence comes from experience. The more we put ourselves out there doing things that scare the bejesus out of us, the more sure of ourselves we become.
I can’t help but think about how our toddlers build confidence too. I would love it if my boy had more self-confidence than I did growing up. What could I do now to build his courage and self-esteem?
Here is what the experts say:
Don’t Overact to Minor Accidents – Be calm and avoid acting frantic around your child. Trust their competence and know they will be able to figure out whatever comes their way. Our children are tuned into us, so watch your responses to their little falls and accidents. Stay steady and secure and they will too.
Edit Your Compliments – Instead of saying things like, “Good Job!” which might make your child dependent on your validation, use phrases like, “You did it all by yourself.” and “You must be proud of yourself!” Get specific and make it about them owning their own accomplishments.
Don’t Do it All For Them – Be patient and let them take the lead, especially when they are in the park or playing with others. Don’t try to fix every conflict and remove every obstacle in their way. They will gain confidence by making their own way and overcoming their challenges, with your support.
Love, Love, Love – This might seem obvious but the more love your child feels from you in every situation, yes through tantrums, the more confident they will be come. Shower them with love and just keep it coming.
Our little one’s pre-school teacher adds, “There are many things that help build confidence. Allowing toddlers to try to do things on their own, validating their feelings, giving them a voice and teaching them to stand up for themselves using language are all confidence builders.”
I see my boy’s wave of “I got this” when he puts together a puzzle piece or sings the ABC’s with me on his toy microphone. Maybe we will sing the song together on the big stage one day soon. Actually, not maybe … I’m sure of it.