Title: Building Self-Esteem and Confidence
Date: 25-Jan-2009

When I was in school, I was afraid to even raise my hand to answer questions. I lacked the confidence and courage. This went on through my schooling years. Growing up was painful as I was always in the shadows, in the background. Finally, as life began to pose its various challenges, I decided to break free and take steps to build up my confidence in my own way.

Just like any children who suffer from low self-esteem, our children in SHELTER also suffer from sever low self-esteem due to much abuse and trauma in their lives. In school, low self-esteem only propels girls to fall prey to boys at the first sign of interest or affection shown. In the same vein, the boys fall prey to bullies who may take advantage and lure them into drugs, gangsterism or violence giving these boys a false of confidence and acceptance. Feeling little self-worth, these children, believing they cannot amount to anything, lack the drive to perform well in their studies. Unable to ‘break away’, their future seems just as bleak as their past!

Thus self-esteem and confidence are essential ingredients in a changing world with its new challenges. Confident children become happy and satisfied in who they are and who they might become. They will be ready to rise to challenges and take on the world, theirs to start with! Every individual therefore, would want to be confident and courageous in whatever circumstance one is in. In his many books on self-esteem, Dr Nathaniel Branden believes self-esteem and confidence is knowing that you have the wherewithal (what it takes) to function reasonably well in the world. In other words, you cannot be confident if you are fearful and easily intimidated.

Real self-esteem and confidence result from small victories and accomplishments. Slowly you begin to know you can handle yourself well in almost every situation. But sadly, in the real world many of us grow up with a dominating figure in our lives. Subsequently, we can either turn out to be tough (when we assert ourselves and fight for what is right) or timid (when we let that person control us).

Listed below are various steps you can take for yourself or for the children under your care to develop their self-esteem and confidence.

Acknowledge your attempts. List out major and minor accomplishments and experiences in the past that have boosted your confidence no matter how insignificant. When your confidence is low, look at the list to remind yourself of your successes and work harder and rise higher. Acknowledge your hard work, time and sacrifices made.

Appreciate the qualities you have. Remember your uniqueness, special qualities and strengths. Use some of these skills to help a discouraged person or a child.

Praise others when they do something well. This will affirm their effort and make them want to do better and take on more challenges.

Move on and get over mistakes. Failing does not matter. What counts is the attempt, is not giving up. Each time you fail is not the final time. Try again. Try harder. When children fail, encourage and guide them to strive a little more to be better in areas where they did not perform well.

Thank others, even children when they do something nice or something right. This will make them feel good about themselves and increase their confidence.

Repeat praises. Steve Biddulph an Australian psychologist tells parents and caregivers that using repeated praises and comments to children is the same as hypnotizing them to react in a specific way. This will result in establishing positive images about themselves. On the other hand, regularly telling children they are lazy or disobedient will only result in those very negative qualities taking root in their thoughts and hence actions.

The Golden Thread

There is only one real failure,
And that is losing the will to overcome, giving in to despair,
When your entire world is torn with grief and strife,
Think yet- when there seems nothing left to mend.
The frail, time-worn fabric of your life,
The golden thread of courage has no end.

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