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Why Children Lack Confidence

By Author: Martin Jone

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Confidence and Learning
Confidence is an attribute in children which has to be built slowly over time, but can be knocked quickly. If in a day a child receives 50 positive comments and one negative, you can guarantee it will be the negative that they remember and which has the greatest impact.
Why Children Lack Confidence
For some children confidence comes more naturally than others, although the reason for this is difficult to pinpoint.
One hypothesis suggests that summer babies exhibit low self-esteem. Although this remains a theory, it is something that both parents and teachers claim to have noticed and is reinforced by research studies such as the one carried out by Cambridge Assessment in 2009. This proposed that pupils with birthdays in June, July and August are more likely to do worse in school than their peers.
Children who suffer with Dyslexic tendencies can also lack confidence in areas of academic prowess. It is a frustrating condition and this is often reflected in a child’s self-belief. It can affect their feelings, behaviour, work and general progress at school. Additionally, building the confidence of a dyslexic child can be increasingly difficult as the child ages and becomes aware of the difference between themselves and their classmates. Their attitude becomes defeatist as they expect it to hold them back, and as a consequence (without the proper input from teachers and family) it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
An additional frequently overlooked problem is the middle-placed child. While those who are extremely bright receive regular praise for their achievements, and those who struggle are given extra support and attention, those that are well-behaved, and neither excel nor fall behind can be unintentionally neglected. This lack of attention can affect their confidence as they become used to coasting, unchallenged, through the curricula.
Effects associated with a lack of confidence
Once a child’s confidence has been knocked, the damage can have long-term effects for their learning and school work.
Pupils that lack confidence find pressurised situations difficult. In a school setting, the ability to handle pressure is vital as students will be placed under stress throughout their education (more so now than ever before). Consequently they may struggle in a number of areas. For example, exams such as Mental Maths taken during Year 6 SATS can cause anxiety, and students often end up fighting panic instead of answering questions.

Adults can help by encouraging children to accept, understand and deal with pressure in order for them not to be negatively affected by it. This is often easier said than done as anxiety and the urge to think ‘I can’t do this’ prevents them from absorbing such words of advice. It’s a negative mindset we see reflected every day in the people around us. People will tell you they ‘can’t do’ maths or art, this isn’t true, they just haven’t been taught correctly.
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