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Building self-confidence and self-esteem in mentees

Self-confidence; a feeling of trust in your own abilities and judgement. Self esteem; knowing and believing your worth. These two important qualities aren’t high in foster children on account of their harsh backgrounds, but there are ways to get them back on the right track.

 

Enrol in extra-curriculars

Martial arts classes are an excellent way for kids to develop self-esteem, as well as confidence in their abilities. Taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, karate, aikido; all of these and more demand discipline and respect.

For decades, martial arts have been used as a tool to help keep kids off the street. They teach them not only to respect their elders, but to have patience and to socialise with other children. Going up the ranks in martial arts boosts kid’s self-esteem because if they can tackle challenges in the dojo, they can also handle those in the outside world.

White belt this year can lead to a 3rd dan black belt 15 years later

Nurture their talents

Despite their objections, foster kids do have talents. They might write poems or songs, play an instrument, play chess, or write code.

Encourage them to do what they love. You can see the sparkle in their eyes when they talk about drawing comics or how they went at footy practice. It’s not ethical for mentors to buy gifts for their mentees. But encourage them to save some money for what they want or find a way for them to feel more confident showing their talent. Point out competitions, hobby groups, or  events they can participate in.

 

Make them feel safe

Foster kids come from unfortunate backgrounds. They have witnessed things children never should. Violence, drugs, and abuse are just some of the situations they’ve escaped from. They deserve to feel safe and pursue their dreams.

Boosting the self-esteem of foster children

How Pyjama Angels Help Develop Foster Kids’ Life Skills

Boosting the self-esteem of foster children

Self-esteem is difficult for foster children to understand, let alone see in themselves. Even adults struggle with it from time to time. But that doesn’t mean self-esteem is impossible to find, even in bleak situations.

It starts with you
As a mentor, your own self-esteem is an example for your charge. How do you feel about yourself? How do you see yourself? Are you proud of your achievements and how you live your life? Because it’s absolutely fine if you are. There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy level of confidence and pride within yourself.

Ask them what they’re good at, and do it
Foster kids might say they aren’t good at anything and that simply isn’t true. Use this tactic instead;

What are you good at? turns into What do you enjoy?

If someone enjoys writing, they create great stories. If a person enjoys drawing or painting, they create nice artwork. Now a creative area, like art or writing, might not be your charge’s idea of enjoyment. But they could enjoy reading, playing games or sports. These can be implemented in one way or another during your time with them.

Give praise – within reason
Excessive praise does more harm than good. Children at the receiving end of constant praise from parents or other mature figures will crumble at criticism for others. This knocks down their self-esteem and can be hard to recover.

There is one way to give realistic praise, and we go further into that with the next point.

Help them set goals
Realistic ones where they will earn praise. You’ll work out goals within the first few visits. The Love of Learning Program emphasizes education; set up goals by term or by year. An easy one is reading; read X amount of books by the end of the year, for example.

Boosting the self-esteem of foster kids isn’t an uphill battle. That mindset makes things harder. It’s a matter of finding out what they enjoy, using it during your visits and watching them make progress. Their self-confidence and happiness will grow, slowly and surely.