In my opinion, confidence is the most powerful characteristics within each of us. High levels of confidence can enable us to thrive and to fulfil our true potential in whatever way we choose- it also generally makes us feel happy.
Equally, if low, it can be a severe burden. It can drag our moods and our self-belief through the gutter. It can hinder our personal development and acts as an unbeatable hurdle.
We all experience different levels of confidence at different times; so, it was refreshing to see the natural growth of confidence by observing my daughter as she manoeuvred her way up a high slide, interacting with other small humans and subsequently sliding down all on her own.
The slide in question was very high - her Mount Everest equivalent. There were also other kids she would come across, as well as lots of steps, and many things to manoeuvre over. In her world, the whole activity seemed daunting, dark, and scary. She was apprehensive about it, and rightly so.
I was by her side, gently showing her how to negotiate her way to the top, reassuring her that I would be there every step of the way. This was fine. Albeit, she was a little scared of the slide as it was covered up and dark inside. Once at the top, she sat on my lap and away we went - all the way to the bottom.
The following time, I allowed her to do a little more for herself; to encourage her to try some climbing on her own, and to ask her whether she wanted to go down on her own. She said, no -- that was fine. I travelled down the slide with her again.
Over and over
We repeated the same steps. She was clearly beginning to show signs of increased confidence as she would climb on her own and move on to the next stage without even acknowledging me. She looked back and still asked for me to go down the slide with her. I agreed.
By the next time, crowds of kids were gathering waiting to hurtle down the slide, so my next target for her was to show her how to queue and wait for others. I waited alongside her, but this time I wanted her to drop down the slide without sitting on my lap. With some reassurance, I climbed up the steps with her; I comforted her by telling her she would be fine. She sat on the slide and asked for me to go with her, I said no, but continued to reassure. A gentle nudge from me and away she plunged... all on her own. An enormous scream was heard for miles as she slid down. I followed shortly, and as I got to the bottom, she was already climbing up the steps again. 'Daddy, again'. She shouted, happily.
It was now time for her to try the whole process on her own. I decided to wait at the bottom. She didn't like that idea but with further reassurance she continued her way up the steps and waited patiently for her turn to slide - occasionally looking back to see I was still nearby. I was and I wasn't.
She subsequently went back on the slide a further dozen or so times without me. I was no longer needed.
That there was confidence in its rawest form. A step-by-step rise in confidence at its simplest level.
During that slide adventure, she taught me that it's ok to ask for a little guidance and help if you are a worried or unsure about something. It is not a weakness if you are uncertain and require some help - it could be an area of your role at work, or it could be something around the house that needs fixing.
Equally, it is as important for the other person (in this case, me), to understand this and to not expect too much straight away. Kids and adults all learn at different paces and with differing styles. Unnecessary and potentially stressfully high expectations and pressure can cause more harm than good. Balancing the need to accept when to ask for help and knowing within yourself that is ok to take a risk and go ahead without that help is a tough one to call.
As an adult, I have repeatedly been thrown in at the "deep end" with regard to tasks or training without ever being asked whether this style was ok. This can be positive as the person chucking me in at the deep end trusts me to be ok with this level of learning, but confidence is gained differently by different people, in different ways. The "deep end" mentality is not every body's preferred way of learning and increasing confidence. We are all unique individuals.
Kids are no different.