Where to Begin? Building Self-Confidence
The young people our Mentors work with hold so much hurt from their lives of trauma, rejection, poverty and hopelessness. Most of them have extremely low self-confidence, so much so that it can be hard to begin to work with them as they keep their distance from people – a defence mechanism they have developed to protect themselves from even more pain. A life with low self-confidence can be extremely debilitating, making it harder socially and in other aspects such as getting a job or onto an educational course. So, where do we begin breaking through this wall?....
Days out and activities are a great way to begin creating trust and helping increase young people’s confidence. This could be a pizza making evening, going out into the countryside or playing board games together. It helps show young people what Mentors are expecting from them and that they won’t exploit them in any way. Having fun can also help young people to temporarily forget their troubles and difficulties and to begin to relax and express their real selves in a safe environment. Up to the point our Mentors start working with them their lives have continuously crushed their self-confidence. Starting to build self-confidence can in turn help bring young people to a mental place where they are better able to engage with Mentors and open up about more tricky issues.
Life has its way of showing us when we’ve made bad mistakes – we run out of money, become isolated, fall in with the wrong crowd – we generally feel (and notice!) the consequences and sometimes others experience the consequences too. But, maybe sometimes we feel like we don’t quite see the positive rewards of when we do the right thing so our behaviour isn’t positively reinforced. However, this type of positive reinforcement is incredibly important – both to encourage us to do the right thing again and also to help build our identity and sense of self (1). This is where our Mentors are so important. They are able to provide the positive reinforcement that these young people have never experienced – to congratulate them when they do things well and to help them to see that their efforts are noticed. We are so thankful to have Mentors who are so willing to offer their time to sit and work with all the young people building their confidence so they can begin to recover and grow in strength.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14
Law, Siu and Shek (2012). Recognition for Positive Behaviour as a Critical Youth Development Construct: Conceptual Bases and Implications on Youth Service Development. ‘The Scientific World Journal’