How Do I Help Son with Confidence

Updated on November 28, 2014
C.A. asks from Oconomowoc, WI
10 answers

My son is 7 and started in 2nd grade this year. This has been somewhat of a tough year for him. He has always considered this one girl to be his best friend. They played together often during the summer, but she is now being very rude to him, and he is having issues with that. He does play with one other boy at recess but that is it. I ask him why he doesn't play with any of the other kids and he says because the boys play sports (he is so afraid that he will do something wrong he won't try it except for hockey) or he is to shy to go up and talk to them. He is also having a tough time adjusting to the class room expectations in 2nd grade. He will lose focus during writing of stories (which he struggles with) and start talking to the other kids or he won't get his papers out of his desk fast enough and he will get marked down on the behavior chart. My husband and I talk to him about his behavior at school, and he gets really upset saying that he tries so hard to be good. This is the first week that talking has been an issue. It's usually just not staying focused and getting books out as quickly as his teacher would like him to. My son struggles with confidence when it comes to trying new things and just plain believing in himself, and I don't think his issues at school are helping him. Does anyone have suggestions? I know at some point I can only do so much and he has to do the rest.

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answers from Las Vegas on

If the only thing he will try is hockey, why not help him develop that sport (if he wants to). I believe the rest will come.

My daughter hated football and was afraid to try at school. After hockey dry-land, the guys toss the football around and eventually, she gave it a try. She came home so proud because she was able to toss the ball around.

My daughter can be a bit shy, but we work with her and try not to do too much for her, so that she will do things on her own.

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answers from San Francisco on

Since he struggles with confidence, my suggestion is to not make a big deal about his school "behavior," especially since being slow at getting your books out is hardly the worst thing in the world. He is trying hard to be good, so you shouldn't be having long, serious discussions with him, which will just make him feel bad about himself.

Find some activity at which he can excel outside of school. A sport, a club, theater, something. And be sure to keep your conversations with him simple and light, because long, serious discussions will be harmful for your gentle child, and will make him feel like a "bad" kid.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I will 2nd the tae kwon do suggestion. My son is 6 and in the 1st grade, he turns seven next month. He started a new school this year, and he also had a "best friend" who was a girl last year. He has been slow to warm up in his new school and we've received similar feedback about focus and attention from his teachers. He has similar reservations about sports and so didn't feel like he was fitting in with the boys. We started tae kwon do a few months ago and he absolutely loves it. Because he loves it, he practices on his own, and because he practices, he is getting praise from his teacher and of course, becoming good at it. That is what he needed, to be good at something physical. So it doesn't have to be tae kwon do, but something that he can easily be successful at would be great. We've tried soccer and gymnastics, but so far he really likes tae kwon do, and he hasn't liked any other sports so far.

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answers from Boston on

I hope you have brought up your son's "lack of confidence" concerns with his classroom teacher. His teacher should be able and willing to work on that with him. Why is he not getting his papers out fast enough, is it an organizational issue or is he easily distracted? You should have a conference with his teacher so you can work out a plan for him to "stay on task" and "boost confidence" at school. He needs to learn that it's okay to make a mistake, that's how we learn.

As far as the girl not playing as much with your son, it's probably just that she's getting older and probably more interested in playing with the girls right now. Get him involved in something outside of school that he likes and wants to do...cub scouts, a sport- there are several instructional sports for kids offered through rec programs (you mentioned hockey), 4H club. Being involved in different activities can get him to try new things and make some new friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New London on

I would rec martial arts, too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Besides getting the teacher involved you could also WRITE a letter to the principal asking for your son to be tested for eligibility for special education. They will assess him for learning disabilities (L.D.) as well as ADHD, etc. But I would start with the teacher. He may just need more time to adjust to the demand of classwork. It goes up again in 3rd grade when learning to read changes to reading to learn (independently). So address issues with the teacher now and I recommend doing so in writing to have a record. My daughter has dyslexia and from third grade to eighth I filled multiple 3 ring binders with emails and grade reports and work samples and even legal documents since the school refused to acknowledge her L.D. But he could just be young for his age and need more guidance to understand what is expected and to move faster not at his own pace. Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

you need to take the word "good" out of the school behavior equation. You can help him with organization that will help. get him a 7 pocket folder with each subject written on it. and all papers go into that folder. Also the word bestfriend. at this age they should be playing with lots of kids. start letting him have playdates. set them up yourself. ask him who might be fun to play with and then you call the mom and set it up. one on one playdates never 3 kids. there is always a kid excluded with that. why is he afraid to try new sports? has he been ridiculed by an older sib? a family member? kids are not normally afraid to try things at that age. start signing him up for things. art classes, music, choir, volunteering, basketball or soccer at the park district etc. where he can be around lots of kids. it should help. good luck


answers from Dallas on

I would get him into a good martial arts program where he has social activity and instruction outside the realm of his normal day routine.

Martial arts is not all about self defense.. it is loaded with great values the children learn to use throughout adulthood.... discipline, perserverance, etc.

Our daughter worked 6+ yrs to achieve her black belt and to this day I do believe martial arts had a hand with her ability to be around others, get along better with others and be a leader. She will turn 20 later this month.

It helped her SO much when she was captain of the cheer squad in leading the group. She also used her blocking skills once when being attacked at school. NO ONE bothered her after they saw what she did.

Martial Arts was some of the best money we spent to help prepare our daughter for the future.


answers from Norfolk on

I've seen many kids grow a lot of confidence over several years of taking taekwondo.
They make friends, they learn to focus, it's a good workout, and it's not a team sport (you generally strive to improve against your own past performance).



answers from Chicago on

My suggestion would to start with Hockey first since he already has an interest in it instead of Martial Arts. My son also has confidence issues (4th grade),and we have tried several things including Martial Arts. We did Karate and it worked for a while until he got hit in the face during a tournament. To top it off it was a girl...he was done. You need to continue to expose him to situations where he will succeed and the confidence would follow.
In regard to school you need to set an appointment with the teacher and discuss. I have found that over the years most of the teachers have been very helpful in suggesting things and implementing them in the classroom. It might just be your kids desk is a mess and he needs help organizing it. Speaking from personal experience we went in early 2 mornings before school and cleaned it out and then wrote/taped a chart to the inside of the desk where each of his books/folders would go. Math & Science on the left, English & Social in the right, pencil pouch on the middle. If he/she is not willing to help then go to the Assistant Principle. It sounds like there something else going on as my son never got a behavior slip for not getting papers out in time.
2nd grade is a transition year again for them, they are now expected to do more. It will change again in 4th, 6th and so on.

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