As a college English instructor for many years, I find it easy to pick out the confident students in my classroom. They enter with a "can do" attitude, and they're usually, happy, polite, attentive, and inspired. They take diligent notes in class, they ask sophisticated questions, and they show little concern for wanting to "impress" or receive validation from their peers. In other words, they feel comfortable in their own skin and secure in their abilities...period.

One thing that has become increasingly apparent to me is that my two year-old little boy exudes confidence. From the time that he wakes up in the morning until the time that he goes to sleep, he approaches everything with an unrelenting curiosity, desire to learn, and “can do” attitude. Thus, his days are spent exploring his world—seeing what he can lift off the counter, discovering what he can accomplish by pushing buttons, figuring out how to open and close cabinet doors, finding new methods to play with his toys, and most recently, testing his physical ability, agility, and strength.

Yesterday, I discovered that a little self-confidence goes an amazingly long way. While I sat on the porch and watched my little boy explore his swing set, I saw him attempt to climb the rungs (a.k.a. rock wall) to the slide. My immediate reaction was complete and utter dismissal.  He’s not going to figure out how to climb that rock wall. That thing’s meant for a five year-old, and even then, I still don’t think it’s that easy to climb.

As I continued to watch him, my jaw dropped in utter disbelief as he made it to the fifth, sixth, seventh, and then last and final rung. What? Did he just do what I thought he did?  He immediately sat his little hiney down on the platform as he’s been instructed to do all summer long, and woosh, down the slide he went without a single bit of coaxing, coddling, lifting, or pushing from mommy.

Watching him conquer that slide was like watching one of my most disadvantaged students ace a speech or writing assignment. It reminded me of what “mind over matter” can accomplish and why the “I think I can” attitude desperately needs to be nurtured, supported, and encouraged.

Children are born with self-confidence. After watching and observing my Lil’ Lewie, I’m sure of it. Now, it’s my role as a parent to make sure he keeps it. Where does it go? Why do most of my students (like 80%) no longer have it? I’m not sure.

Somewhere along the way, my insecure students were told they were not good enough, and they believed it. Perhaps it was a message sent by their own parents or perhaps it was a message sent by their peers. All I know, is that I’m going to do whatever I can to help my little boy preserve his. It will be the single most important gift I can give to him as a parent.


  1. It's so amazing what kids can do because there's nobody saying to them that they can't. In my working days, I taught special ed. It was really hard to watch intelligent students who had obstacle enough, hate school because they had been told over and over by teachers, parents, etc. that they weren't good enough, that they weren't doing it right. Most of them decided they would give up rather than try and fail again.

  2. What a fantastic story and lesson. Thank you so much for sharing it! It's so funny because Nate exhibits so many of those same traits (the curiosity, exploring, feats of strength). I never thought how they could relate to self-confidence, which is undoubtedly a key to success and happiness. I, too, will work to preserve it!

  3. beautiful story and accomplishment from your little one :) SO TRUE that children are born with confidence and unfortunately, I think it slowly gets taken away for one reason or another. As a former teacher, I too saw the strengths in children that they did not even see in themselves. I know that throughout my college years, so many professors told me(because I struggled in math my ENTIRE life) that I didn't believe I could do math, therefore I NEVER did math. I can only hope my boys feel confident enough throughout life to succeed at WHATEVER they put their minds to.

    have a good weekend!!

  4. Annette you do realize its you that gave him that confidence. You allowed him to conquer the slide without giving him any anxiety. It comes from home and its clear you're doing a fantastic job! (=

  5. You are right about children having a confidence that perhaps can diminish as they grow. I think that they do not know certain feelings of fear (until they get hurt), embarrassment, or the thought of simply not doing well. It is up to parents and teachers to give children positive encouragement along the way so that there is not a huge fear of failure. You are a great mom Annette, because you gave him the confidence. Have a great night!

    Mama Hen

  6. Have a great weekend Annette! :)Enjoy the beautiful weather!

    Mama Hen

  7. Beautiful story, and what a big boy! I can only hope that I can help my boys keep their confidence and zest for life! It is a rough world out their but if I can help them keep it I think I will be one happy momma!

  8. Thanks for commenting on my blog the other day.

    I love this story and that you stood back and let him have his wings for a moment. That you didn't over react at the fear of danger or hover over him. I've got one of those exploring, adventurous, and extremely outgrowing and outspoken kids. She amazes me. I hope she keeps those qualities.

  9. September 16th? Have I really had this post starred in my reader since September 16th? OMG.

    Well anyway... I still wanted to come over and comment because this is an awesome post. I work with young people (college age) and am constantly amazed by how much insecurity they have picked up through years of not being affirmed (whether it be from parents or teachers or both). And yes, a little confidence goes a long way in order for them to succeed.

    This is a great reminder to be deliberate in instilling that into my own children, and also a good reminder that we can do this for our children's friends as well. Well-meaning, intentional words of affirmation can literally alter the course of a young person's life.

    Great post. x


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