Give great effort, not a false sense of confidence


As a parent, elementary teacher, and Pilates instructor I see a generation of kids being given a false sense of confidence. Can YOU do anything perfectly? No, well neither can your children. Children are too often being praised for something they don’t do well. Why not encourage them to work harder! This is what builds character! Think about the pride you had when you accomplished something you’ve worked really hard for. We want that same feeling for them.

Children should be encouraged to explore their interest because to do so is healthy and makes them brave. We all learn from our mistakes. That type of learning helps kids find out what they’re good at. But, I think parents are afraid that any criticism will crush a child’s confidence and as a result, children may develop a false sense of confidence. They won’t learn to take criticism well in adulthood. Helpful criticism is not bad, it helps a child grow. If parents reward them for everything whether or not they’ve deserved it (and kids know) they aren’t learning that it’s ok to be wrong!

I know parents want to raise confident children and when they see it’s not so bad to be wrong; they will work harder, try again, and feel more true pride! When I’m teaching my children a Pilates class, I’m not constantly saying, “perfect, wonderful, excellent” rather, I will point out something they are doing well and see if I can get them to do it even better, then give them praise. My two-year-old knows she’s not a great swimmer yet, but she also knows she will be because she’s practicing and wants to be better. I tell her, “You’re getting stronger, or way to be brave.”

Extracurricular activities are fantastic: clubs, sports, talent shows…When kids get to perform in front of their peers and parents it does build confidence but parents want to make sure that it is true confidence that they have worked HARD for.

Kids these days are very stressed! There are a lot more expectations on them today than when we were in school. Maybe it’s because of this stress, parents want to make them feel good. But, they still have to work hard! Children get discouraged when they’re doing poorly. We can help them work through this by reminding them, “Yes, it is hard!” and that’s why we have to practice…math, soccer, piano, reading…

When I started my Pilates for kids class in Argyle, I knew the kids would enjoy the routine and challenge. As a teacher, I recognize and appreciate the effect Pilates had on them, promoting calm and concentration. My class offered a competitive environment against themselves. I tried to make it a positive environment where the reward in working hard is a confident child who feels good about themselves.

Parents control the atmosphere their children live in… My friend Margot says this about parenting,”Like creating a great wine, It’s not just about the type of grape. More like what type of dirt did they grow in, how many days of sunshine, … lots of love and energy goes into that. And the very best teacher I ever had, my Dad, has always said, “Give great effort!” That sticks with me in everything I do and I hope to instill that in my children and the children I teach!”

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