Lending Young People Our Confidence in Them

We spend a great deal of time discussing children’s skills and abilities, drugstore and rightfully so; but we often neglect another necessary prerequisite for achieving academic and professional success. I am talking about a child/student having the necessary confidence in his/her intellect, skills, and abilities to work toward achieving success. Many of our children, and truth be told even some of us, suffer from what I term a crisis of self-confidence; simply stated, not believing that they have the intellect, skills, and abilities to achieve success. This crisis of self-confidence is a serious matter. Even for children who have very clearly identifiable gifts and talents, a crisis of self-confidence can be a debilitating condition, preventing them from achieving the success that they are fully capable of achieving.

In response to such a crisis, one of the things that I have learned over the years is that my confidence in a student can sometimes be enough to get them on the way to believing in his/her own abilities. In essence, what I am talking about is loaning a student my confidence in them; allowing them to use my confidence in their abilities as a foundation for them to move forward. In other words, while we work on building Susan’s confidence in her ability to get algebra, she uses my confidence in her abilities to get started. Why does this work? Because while Susan does not yet have confidence in her abilities, she trusts me and believes that my confidence in her must be based on something.

This shouldn’t sound like an altogether foreign concept. Many of us have had the experience of being motivated or lifted by someone else believing in us. That parent, friend, or teacher’s confidence had the effect for many of us, of helping to get us to the point  where we could see what it was that they saw in us. It was not a complete replacement of the self-confidence necessary for achieving, but it was just enough to get us started. That is exactly what we have to do for some of our children/students; lend them our confidence in their abilities. It could be just enough to help unleash the amazing potential that lies within them.

Be empowered my friends and remember, change begins with you!

Happy children in a multi ethnic elementary classroom

Our Children…

My message today is a simple one: Don’t give up on our children. Don’t ever allow what you see in the media and what you hear at the grocery store and the barber shop to make you consider giving up on our children. Despite what the statistics stay, despite the great challenges that we face with ensuring that all of our children have access to a world-class educational experience, despite the crime and violence that grip so many of our communities, I have never been more sure than I am today that our children can and will not only succeed, but lead.

How can I be so sure of this, you ask? Because daily I look into their eyes; and through our children’s eyes I see their ambition, I see their determination, I see their God-given gifts and talents, I see their strength, and I see their courage. And I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that nothing, and I mean nothing, can stop them doing what they set their hearts and minds to doing. Our children can and will beat the odds. Our children can and will be the leaders to take America to heights never before seen or imagined.

So don’t you let anyone fool you into believing things about our children that are not so. Please don’t give up on our children. They haven’t given up; they’re just getting started.