Tips for Raising a Confident Child

Tips for Raising a Confident Child

Help Your Child Enjoy Public Speaking

Your palms get sweaty and your heart races as you try to stop the trembling in your knees. Have you ever felt these paralyzing emotions before or during public speaking events? Does your child seem to be overly anxious when faced with the task of speaking in public? As parents there are things we can do to raise confident and capable kids, free from these anxiety ridden symptoms, who can tackle the world from a podium.

From the earliest elementary years through the classes at colleges, our children are given opportunities to speak in front of groups. I call these opportunities, because that is what they truly are – they are the practice times for real life. In college I once heard that the worst class for students was Speech 101. It was not for the homework load, a boring instructor, or the costs of the books. It was because it required each student to speak in the auditorium in front of class. Speak coherently and get an A. Not as easy as it sounds for some people.

How to Raise a Confident Public Speaker

Don’t leave speaking in public up to the classrooms of formalized school. While these are valid opportunities, there are many factors influencing the effectiveness of relying on in-class speaking to boost experience and confidence. If your child is being bullied, or once accidentally left his fly down during his book report – causing a torrent of nicknames for the rest of the week – classroom presentations might be more like a torturous milestone to be survived.

Instead of relying on your child’s classroom to develop his speaking skills, take him into situations where he is already confident and eager about the environment. This might be among his Boy Scout Troop, his church youth group, or at the community center where he helps coach soccer. The more natural the surroundings are, the more your child will feel like a member of the audience.

Help your child find a topic she loves, and then find a way for her to share that passion with others. My 8 year old is not fearful of public speaking, but can be an observer in classes, waiting for his moment to pounce. Last week when the project was to create a frog origami creature, his face lit up like lightening – he LOVES the craft of origami. He moved from hanging on the sidelines to center stage as he directed kids and adults how to complete their projects. Passions are powerful motivators.

Make certain that your child has varied opportunities, especially at young ages, to be engaged in conversations with crowds of people. These can range from dinners with the neighbors, to church functions, to community service activities. You don’t have to leap into an auditorium to practice skills. Start small and move on from there.

Don’t focus on your own fear of public speaking, and don’t play into your child’s nerves by getting nervous for her. She can sense your fear a thousand miles away. Now is the time to fake it if that is what it takes. The more laid back you are about the public presentation, the more likely she will see it as low on the anxiety scale.

Start early. Don’t wait until your child is a teenager to prod her before the microphone. The earlier you expose your child to situations where she can have the opportunity to speak in front of others, the more natural it will feel to her. My daughter was recently giving tours with a friend at a local historical home (one of her passions), and happened to present the tour to two Toastmasters who were in town for a convention. These two men later wrote a note to the historical society expressing their admiration that the society encourages young people in speaking roles, and that these two young women were so poised and capable. These girls have grown up spending many hours in this historical home, so speaking with others about the history of it is natural and easy.

Public speaking is a skill that will not only get your child through Speech 101, but it will open doors in all venues. Effective speaking is a powerful tool that can be used to live a more successful life, socially, academically, and in business. Individuals who are experienced and confident with public speaking can be persuasive and influential. Give your child the tools to succeed and help him avoid the fear of the podium. It won’t bite.

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