Every time I hear a flight attendant tell me to put my mask on before I help my child, I realize how that moment might be worth the price of a the plane ticket, just for a reminder that I can’t help my kid if I can’t breathe.
The same is true of homeschooling. If you sound like you’re wavering about your choice to be a homeschooling family, then your kids feel less comfortable in that choice as well. And, ironically, self-confidence is one of those things that all parents say they want to inspire in their kids through education.
Luckily, you have a lot of influence over your child’s confidence, because self-confident people inspire self-confidence in those around them.
Do you wonder how self-confident you appear? Ask yourself these three questions:
1. Do I have a high level of optimism?
Optimism is so important that it’s a medical issue. Like other pre-existing conditions, we are born with our optimism set-point, and like our weight set-point, we have to work hard to change it, but the benefits are worth it. Optimistic people live longer, happier lives.
Sonja Lyubomirsky is a clinical psychologist who spends her days doing research to see what small actions we can take to improve our happiness. She has a book full of clinically proven happiness hacks. For example, give three random pieces of praise in one day. Or pet a dog each day. Lyubomirsky finds that merely trying to increase your optimism makes you more optimistic.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle that has few measures for success. We have to believe in ourselves internally, and optimism goes a long way to growing that belief.
2. Do I have a clear view of my strengths?
Ironically, though our strengths give us the most confidence, we are largely blind to our strengths because we assume everyone has them in some capacity. That’s why taking a personality test is so important. The information you glean from the results could be the most essential tools you’ll have as a homeschooler, because using the strengths that come naturally to your personality type means you’ll most likely find success in whatever you do.
The cyclical bonus of knowing what you’re good at: if you embrace your strengths you’ll be better at receiving praise, and that, in turn, builds optimism.
Once you can identify your own strengths you’re better at identifying strengths in your children. And this is the type of key knowledge that truly makes you a better parent.
3. Do I know where I’m going?
Goal setting is the most important activity to improve your self-confidence. And since kids need to set their own goals to gain self-confidence, you can lead by example.
The worst thing that’ll happen if you tell your kids to set their own goals is that they’ll be bored for a bit. But it’s actually important for your kids to experience boredom because that’s what drives them to find a goal.
Self-efficacy is the technical term for our belief in our ability to define a goal and reach it.
Did you answer no to all three of these? Then you probably need a jump start in the confidence department.
Your behavior is a reflection of your beliefs about who you are and what you think you are capable of, but this process can also run in reverse. Economist Richard Easterlin found that you can change your behavior even if you don’t believe in yourself, and that behavior change actually changes how you feel about yourself.
That works because if we change one habit, we actually have a stronger ability to change other habits. And meeting a goal is an inherently confidence-building activity. Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better Than Before, is a great tool for making one small change, and then another and then another.
You’ll be tempted to use the book to get your kids to make changes in their own life. But remember that the biggest impetus for change is having a goal you want to meet. The best goals are internally motivated, so model good behavior and your kids will follow when they’re ready.