top of page

Does your Kid have Unshakeable Self Confidence?

Is your child struggling with confidence at school, socially, in sports or with bullies? Would you like to empower your child with unshakeable self-esteem so that he or she could tackle any level of book, handle not being in the so called “in crowd,” undertake a new athletic endeavor without getting so easily discouraged or even stand up to a persistent bully. Every parent wants the best for their child. Every parent wants their child to have that special edge to give them the leg up in handling adversity and new challenges. Every parent wants their son or daughter to have confidence. But, the problem is that you cannot give a kid confidence. It does not work that way. Children, like adults, can obtain confidence only one way – the old fashioned way – they have to earn it.

The best thing a parent can do is find a positive nurturing environment where their child is going to have the opportunity to set goals, be taught how to work towards those goals and let them feel the boost in self esteem when the goals are achieved. I call this process “goal realization.” Only through tangible goal realization is real long term confidence acquired.

As parents we want our child to feel great about themselves so we will often praise their efforts in hopes that this will do the trick. It is almost instinct for a parent to do so. And, it is fine to praise your child because it gives them important support that they need. Unfortunately, this does not give a child confidence. Why, because kids are too smart. They know if they are good or bad at something. If your child is playing basketball and rarely if ever makes a basket and you repeatedly praise him or her – they know that they are not that good. If, however, they practice for hours with friends, alone, in lieu of playing video games or watching tv (sacrifice) – then when they start to make baskets they feel great inside. This feeling is not fleeting nor can it be dampened by others. Hence, the confidence becomes unshakeable because it was earned.

Successful adults, like successful children, are unique in that they set, work at and achieve goals. These individuals also master the art of establishing short and long term goals. Short term objectives must be reasonably obtainable in a timely fashion. When short term goal upon short term goal are added together, eventually the long term aim is realized. If only the bigger end goal is solely focused upon, then the relative length of time and normal set backs along the way will often lead to disappointment and quitting for children. The last thing any person needs is to have quitting reinforced as a habit at a young age.

Taekwondo is a wonderful discipline for instilling this unbreakable confidence in children. In taekwondo, young students master impressive physical skills, gain self control, focus and learn respect. As a master, I see its awesome effects daily at my Academy in Traverse City. Taekwondo, a traditional Korean martial art is structured by its very nature to address and achieve goal realization. For instance, the long term objective as most know is to earn a black belt. However, this aim usually takes 3-4 years of training. For a youngster (that is use to getting a new video game cartridge, toy or dvd frequently) this is seen as way to long of a journey. So on the path to black belt, there are 10 color belts that must be earned. To earn each color belt the students must learn several Korean words, kicks, punches, blocks and self defense moves. About every 3 months, the students will then demonstrate all their hard efforts and test for each new color belt. After mastering each more challenging curriculum, the student is then prepared to earn their long term goal of black belt. The confidence gained from such efforts and realization is immense.

For me, the most powerful and rewarding part of a young taekwondo student’s achievement is when he or she takes that new found confidence outside the martial arts academy and applies it in every day life. Parents with great pride will routinely inform me that their son or daughter just tried out for a sports team that previously they would have never undertake for fear of failure. Students will tell me how they are excelling in school subjects they once struggled in and will proudly present their report card as proof. Finally, my favorite story is of a young girl who was being teased and bullied by a class mate. It was so bad that she would come home at night and cry. She even asked her parents if she could stop going to school. After several months of training, this young martial artist found the confidence to stand up to the bully. She is still training today and is now half way to her black belt – and most importantly loves school again.

As a young instructor many years ago, I happened to have a conversation with an old grand master after a training session. He had been teaching for decades. Our discussion turned to the topic of confidence and martial arts. He asked me point blank how it worked and how I could explain it to a parent. I was stumped. I knew taekwondo fostered great confidence because I had experienced it in my own life, but I could not articulate the process. He asked me “what type of people in the world appear very confident?” I respond that professionals such as doctors always seemed confident to me. He agreed, but then followed with the further inquiry of “do doctors know a lot about everything?” I thought for a second and said no they are only very knowledgeable about one small sliver of life – medicine. The old master agreed with a nod and then said doctors take the confidence from being an expert in one limited area and use it in other parts of their life such as social, academic, business and personal relationships. Young martial artists do the exact same thing. They become experts in taekwondo and that self esteem follows them into all parts of their life.

Taekwondo is great way for kids to gain confidence. There are many others avenues around the Traverse City area as well. Seek out the one that is right for your child. The key is to find an environment (be it sports, music or art) where goal realization is taught, encouraged and instilled. Confident kid, become confident teens who become confident adults, parents and leaders.

bottom of page