As an adult, most things in life are not too scary. Certainly we get nervous from time to time, but it is easy to forget how the world looks to a child. Of course some children have more self-confidence than others, but for children who are insecure and also those with learning disabilities, school can appear to be a pretty scary place, regardless of the child's age.
Even routine educational activities can be a source of stress to children. For example, the pressures of exams and even occasional pop quizzes can put a lot of pressure on children, and while they are an important part of education, it is important to help your child approach such trials with confidence. Helping your children to build their own confidence now will help them develop important coping skills that will help them throughout their lives.
Try to take a note of which subjects your child likes and dislikes. Some subjects will be obvious favorites, and that is always a good sign that your child may cope well in those courses. However, the subjects that your child does not like are most likely to be the ones in which his or her confidence will need greater support.
Anytime your children seem to be avoiding certain subjects, or even faking illness on the days that they have those subjects, you should consider whether it is because of a confidence issue. Reluctance to go to school in a child with a disability may also indicate that his or her academic needs are not being met or perhaps accommodations and specially designed instruction are not being provided appropriately.
Give Your Child Confidence
I'm sure every parent likes to shower their children with praise, but it might be helpful to be a little bit more specific. Children expect their parents to tell them that they are beautiful, clever, wonderful etc... However, a great way to help your child grow their confidence is to tell them with specificity what they are actually good at. Most children struggle with some things and have a natural ability with others. Unfortunately, talented children often do not even realize how talented they really are. Anytime you notice that your child is good at something, let him or her know with specific, genuine praise.
Children like to be paid attention to - - just like adults do. When your child is telling you something that happened, do your best to give your full attention and actively listen. You would be surprised how good children are at telling when you're not really listening. Try to respond constructively and avoid being dismissive and making vague, general responses like "that's nice dear."
Take the Fear Out of Parent Conferences
Parents can, often sub-consciously, put a lot of pressure on their children, and when parent conferences roll around it can be a scary time. When you come back from a parent conference, avoid the temptation to tell your children what they're doing wrong and instead focus on the positives.
Telling your children about their weaknesses isn't necessarily constructive. Instead, consider discussion with their teachers how you could help them improve upon those weaknesses. Create a plan and act on it.
Outside of School
Extra-curricular activities are rarely a bad thing, so give your child every encouragement (without pressuring them) to try new things. Clubs and groups are a great opportunity for your children to practice socializing with new friends and away from the pressures of school this can really help with insecurities.
This is a simple tip, but one to live by. Always be nurturing and loving, but also speak to your child about their education. Let them know that if they have any problems at school they can talk to you. It seems obvious, but to a child it might not be, so just knowing that you're there can often make scary things a little less scary.
This article was contributed by guest writer, Ricky Peterson, who enjoys working with students of all ability levels as a tutor for uktutors.com, where he specializes in getting children through tough topics in their education, often with a little confidence boost.