The Importance of Confidence.
Q: Is confidence really so important? What’s the point?
A: Picture this: there are children in a room, competing in a contest of who can build the best tower. The judge walks in. He walks around the room, examining the towers, and then chooses the winning tower. The child who wins stands tall, chest out, grinning at those around him. The children who did not win look away, some might try to speak but their voices will crack. Others might knock their towers over.
Are any of the “losers” still proud of their tower? Are they proud of themselves for having participated in the contest?
In her book The Confident Child: Raising Children to Believe in Themselves, social psychologist Terri Apter describes the above situation as part of a research experiment that she conducted in graduate school. In reality, the judge was declaring the winning tower at random. The aim of the study was to observe children’s responses to success or failure. The youngest children (two- and three-year-olds) barely responded to winning or losing, but Apter remembers observing the older children as torture. Many of the “losers” were too embarrassed to even face her and others hunched over and stared at their ankles, willing their tears to go away.
Apter uses this anecdote to begin her book on raising children with confidence in the modern age as she was heavily affected by this experience watching children gain, lose, or maintain their confidence when arbitrarily winning or losing a relatively insignificant contest. She explains that parents fight a daily internal battle to “attain a balance between teaching children that they must do their best, and teaching them that they are ‘the best’ regardless of what they do…”