What adults need to know about kids is that they don’t think like adults! You, as an adult, don’t really know how you thought back then because you weren’t very self aware. I wouldn’t remember either and the only way I know any of this is because I talk with hundreds of them at a level that they don’t share with their parents. Go with these techniques, they work based on trial and error, testing and tweaking and refining from years of doing this work.
Let’s do this,
In this video, you are going to get strategies 2 and 3 to assist youth athletes to build confidence for sports.
2. Strategy #2 Teach and Enforce that any form of “I Can’t” are not acceptable.
This was one of the most powerful teachings my mother taught me as a kid and I have personally lived it and taught it ever since. The true story I tell often is that one day, when I was about 9, I was in the back seat with my brother while my mother was driving us to a game. Our mom was telling us about what she wanted to see from us while watching in the stands, something along the lines of hustle. In that conversation, my brother blurts out: “But I can’t” and my mom actually pulled the car over to the curb, turned around, looked us in the eyes and said, I don’t ever want to hear those 2 words “I Can’t” from you boys ever again. You can do anything you put your mind to. From that point on, she enforced it like it was the law in our family and I think my brother one time actually had to write 100 sentences “I will not say I can’t ever again.”
When you emblazon a belief like this on a kids mind, through emphasis and consistency, it tends to stick with us as it did for me. I don’t need to tell you how having an “I Can” attitude builds confidence do I?
3. Strategy #3 Remind them of their past successes.
Confidence is a state that results from a thought that I CAN. Our past successes are the most convincing thoughts that support the I CANs. If you’ve done something before, you can do it again, right? Us humans are pretty much wired to do default thinking about what went wrong in the past and what could go wrong in the future. It’s a survival mechanism. This is even more pronounced for kids. Unfortunately, unless we train our mind otherwise, that’s a big confidence killer. I have spoken with countless kids who can remember very well their biggest chokes but can’t remember their successes. As a parent, you can help fill that gap by finding appropriate times to reminisce about things they have done well in the past but the power of it will be is in the specifics of what you bring up. For example, my son is a golfer. We could be sitting around watching a TV show and during a commercial, I’ll just start talking about that time in the District tournament where he was 1 over par after 9 holes and how he finished out. Like this: Hey, I was just thinking about that time you played districts, remember? I’ll never forget your steely face as you walked up the 14th fairway and your ball was under a tree and you didn’t flinch for a second, kept total composure with all that pressure, and then holed out. That was just so awesome”….and then we have a connective bonding experience in addition to boosting his confidence today from something that happened 3 years ago.