Confidence serves as a key motivator and catalyst in life. Learning and growing require a willingness to take steps forward, to take a chance, to stretch. As child psychologist Dr. Emilie DeYoung says, “Confidence enables a student to move through circumstances in order to thrive in life.”
Yes, every kid needs confidence. However, Kids Hope USA students need even more.
Why is this true?
Psychologists at Hofstra University reported that 100 percent of kids experience being called hurtful names by other students. By the way, that’s all kids. For some, the words fall off and have no lingering effect. With others, they stick.
The neutralizing factor for most kids is home; specifically, parents or siblings who provide encouragement, affirmation, and a safe place to bounce back. Too many at-risk kids don’t have homes that help them bounce.
Without someone providing a different description, or reminding a student about what is real and true and wonderful about him or her, the hurtful words find their way into a student’s internal dialogue. Self-speak serves as a key determiner in building (or eroding) self-confidence. Students will live out what they believe to be true about themselves.
A mentor can change all that.
I met every week with a second-grader named James. By April we had played every game in the Kids Hope USA closet, so I pulled out my iPad and a page that contained 50 sight words. James liked the idea of timing how fast he could read the words—even though his reading skills were low.
He completed his first try in 58 seconds. “Way to go!” I said as we high-fived. “To read all the words in that time means you’re a good reader.”
“Let’s do it again!” he said, which we did five more times.
As we walked back to class, I told him how surprised I felt by how much he enjoyed our new game. “Nobody has ever told me I’m good at anything,” he shared.
At the end of the year, his teacher told me that his reading aptitude dramatically increased the last two months of school.
It’s simple to do and yet profound; every mentor can help a student build confidence. Every kids needs it. Ours need it even more than most.
To learn how to access The Confidence Series for your mentors, contact your regional team at https://kidshopeusa.org/contact-us/