Raising a Confident Child

Michael J. Reardon

In late October, I read an article by Alison Gopnik about, “The Key to Raising A Confident Child” in the Wall Street Journal. Alison insinuated that children today are taking fewer risks and that the trend is leading to an increase in anxiety for these children as they get older. Reading further, I learned that a study by students at Columbia University and New York University suggested that “avoidance learning” is fundamental to human development; however, it has been found that children will be more inclined to take risks when they know there is someone around – like their parent or teacher – to watch them and encourage them.

At Meadowbrook, I often talk about the importance of a child developing confidence at an early age. I am a firm believer in the benefit of exposing young children to a lot of activities. At school assemblies throughout the year, I often encourage students to try new things.  Due to the nurturing environment we have created at our small elementary school, students play with reckless abandon. I love that our students are quick to volunteer when new activities are introduced to them.

So I ask, if the goal of learning and developing confidence is to try new things, explore nature, improve coordination, etc., then shouldn’t we encourage kids to play more and take risks?! Well, according to this article, the answer is yes…especially if a sense of parental care and stability is present. It is refreshing to know that children will inherently take “calculated” risks to learn something new when they feel comfortable. Thank goodness for small schools and caring teachers.

 We are fortunate that so many of you share our philosophy.
The parents at Meadowbrook entrust their children to our caring and nurturing staff. By doing so, it allows them to participate in an array of enrichment activities. Children may be upset and become apprehensive if something doesn’t go well the first time they try it; however, if parents want them to learn and become resilient, then they have to be willing to let them take risks and try again. The reward for accomplishing something that did not come easily is extremely valuable to building confidence and self-esteem. Play on!

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