Friday, 11 May 2012

Do you want a cocky or confident child?

As a child, and a young adult, I always bemoaned a lack of confidence.

I was too shy to ask for things, make introductions and to address more than one person at a time.

My sister, and younger sibling, would be despatched to do such things on my behalf.

“Can my brother play football with you?” she would pose to unknown groups of children.  Yeah, my confidence was a problem, shame however, not so much.

Being inherently lazy was partly to blame, but more so, was my perceived lack of swagger.

Forcing her to act for me, as well as herself, probably did her a favour on some level.  Since childhood she’s always been confident around new groups of people, and seems instantly at ease in any social scenario, however foreign it may be to her.

I never got a thank you.

But if I’m being honest, neither did she.

It’s something I’ve been conscious of, and mindful to, whilst bringing up my son.

Asking myself how I may be able to make sure he is less like me, or how I was growing up.

A concept I should probably consider extending further.

Generally Max is a confident sort, he makes friends easily, and certainly isn’t shy in approaching other children.

I hope some of this is down to the daily effort we’d go to, with him as a pre-schooler, of visiting different groups, often not knowing a single soul before going to them for the first time.

Doing such things was effectively forcing him to practise starting relationships with people.

Sometimes he’d find it difficult to break into existing friendship circles, and I think his bold approach can sometimes put others off, rather than have them inviting him for tea.  But I actually think that is a good thing.

I’d rather he was over-confident, perceived by some as cocky, rather than lack overt belief in himself.

He’s also gaining more confidence in scenarios of communicating with adults.

Again, I’ve always tried – at opportune moments – to encourage him to speak up for himself.

To be able to order his own food, drinks, talk to the librarian, hairdresser, ticket salesman, air stewardess or whoever his path crosses with.

I was delighted during our recent hotel stay in Bath that he was ordering not only his own food, but wishing to order for us all.

April and early May have been busy months for us, involving a lot of travel.  We were in Jamaica for a family wedding recently, and Max’s confidence was again on show.

He’d not been there an hour, and he was sat at the swim up bar ordering himself, and his friends, strawberry slushies.  There’s allsorts of issues to consider there, I know, but to have the confidence to mix amongst loud holidaymakers, and successfully gain the attention of bar staff pleased me greatly.

Then last week, on a narrow boating weekend (told you we’ve been busy), he was first off in the pub ordering himself a tap water, then his dessert, then on our second visit for dinner, he arranged food for all of us.  Sadly, not going as far as to pay.

But all without me prompting him to do so.

In fact, he’d have been annoyed with me if I’d thwarted his independence.

At seven years-old I think this all bodes well for his future.

However, one thing I do need to ensure is that I don’t regress back the shyness of my youth and rely on him to go and speak to people on my behalf.

Mind, I don’t really fancy a kick-about much these days anyway.