Wednesday 12 February 2020

The Confidence Gap

Last year, Y's school asked for kids in her grade to self-nominate if they would like to stand for election to a few school office-bearer posts. Initially, Y showed some interest but as she got to know more about what it involved, she rapidly backed off. I tried to encourage her to stand, remembering full well my attempts at such electioneering in my school days, most of which led to thumping defeats! But all my encouragement seemed to make it worse. She simply did not want to make posters, stick them up all over the school, give speeches and generally ask for votes. I let it go, thinking that she may be more confident after a year. After all, it was her first year in a strange environment. 

Of late, I have noticed a worrying insecurity that lurks beneath her surface confidence. She will show us our assignments but balk at showing them to her brother. Ads is notoriously critical (those Virgo genes!) and does not mince words when offering feedback (he is also very mature about accepting feedback about himself or his work, recognizing that the comments are not personal but designed to help him improve). Yuks, unfortunately, does not have the maturity to accept constructive (if blunt) feedback in an unemotional, impersonal way.

Often, showing us something she has made, she will preemptively announce "It's very bad, I know" and rush off into another room while we examine her work. A few days ago, she showed me a school assignment and while I was reading it, she was crouched under the bed as though I was going to pronounce a sentence on her!

Every time, I tell her the same thing. It's your work. If you put in your best effort, it's good. Don't aim for perfection. If it is flawed, or imperfect, you need to love and respect it anyway because it's yours. Don't allow other's comments to hurt so much. Do take feedback and examine it carefully to see if it has merit, then use that feedback to improve. But ultimately, be your own judge and judge yourself kindly. 

Reading articles and books harping on this theme does not help. As much as I want my daughter to grow up to be a confident woman, I understand that modern pressures will always pull her down unless she learns how to recognize the insidious nature of her own mental blocks, and knows how to cope with them and ultimately surmount them. My alter ego, of course, is laughing heartily and sarcastically at my attempts to inject confidence into my kid when I myself am subject to imposter syndrome, performance anxiety and sundry other imaginary syndromes, disorders and maladies :))

So, still working on how to tackle this. One more parenthood challenge! Will it never end?? 

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