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Building confidence

Building confidence

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Dereck Jackson
Building confidence 

Confident children are happy children and are popular with their peers.

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Episode 1 - Part 1

Episode 1 - Part 2

I wish to touch on three theories of personality which I believe are significant in helping parents build a confident child. Do not be alarmed, I promise not to confuse you. I have helped grade-six pupils get a better understanding of their personalities by explaining these theories to them.

Freud’s three elements of the personality

The first theory is Freud’s. His theory is very complicated, but I will just pick out three vital points to understand. Freud believed that the human being has three sides to their personality – the id, the ego and the superego.

The id

The id is that primitive side of the personality that concentrates on fulfilling all its basic needs such as safety, food, sexual gratification and anything else it desires. It eats when hungry, drinks when thirsty, lashes out when threatened and has sex when desired. The id is entirely self-centred and does not think before acting – much like a newborn baby, you may say, and you would be correct.

When a baby is thirsty, it cries until the need is satisfied, without consideration for the sleeping mother’s needs! As he becomes a little older, he may pinch his little sister when threatened and even play with his private parts in full view of all around him. He is busy fulfilling all the desires of the id and will continue with this uncontrolled behaviour if left unchecked.


The ego

Checking this uncontrolled behaviour is the job of the ego. The ego represents society – beginning with the parents and extended family and includes teachers, ministers of religion, the criminal justice system and even the peer group. By two years old, for example, the child may desire to eat a biscuit, but mother says: “No, not until you have washed your hands.” In this way, the child gradually learns to control the instincts of the id because if he does not, he will get into trouble. So, the id and the ego are always at war with each other. If parents and others do not teach the child self-control, he will be rejected by the community and worst-case scenario: end up becoming a psychopath.


The superego

Freud recognised that people learn to control their desires and emotions, not only out of fear of retribution but for a higher reason as well – something which religious people refer to as a conscience. Freud, who was an atheist, termed this the superego. So, for instance, instead of not stealing a desired cellphone for the fear of being arrested, you do not steal it because this act would be contrary to your value system.


Finding the balance

The id has another function as well, according to Freud, which is to maintain a balance with the ego. Occasionally, the superego gets to become too dominant. An example of this is a very religious parent who would emphasise the commandment that to kill is a sin. A colleague of mine recently told me of a case he had dealt with of a four-year-old child who had refused to get out of bed for three days for the fear of stepping on an ant and killing it. A confident child tends to be in control of his impulses and develops a balanced lifestyle.


Erikson’s psychosocial development

Another theory I wish to deal with was developed by Erikson. I wish to focus on his theory of psychosocial development. According to him, as the child develops he goes through a series of stages that need to be resolved in order to live a successful life. During each stage, the child is faced with a choice – one negative and one positive. Failure to successfully complete a stage can result in the reduced ability to complete a further stage, and an unhealthier personality and sense of self. You can, however, resolve them at a later stage, but with much difficulty.


Trust versus mistrust

Stage one – trust versus mistrust. (zero to six months) During this stage, the child ought to develop trust and hope if the parents meet all the child’s needs. For the first six months, the parents should meet every need of the child twenty-four hours of the day, seven days of the week. If the baby cries, the child has a need that should be met as quickly as possible and it is up to the parent to figure out the source.


It may be the breast or a cuddle or a sore bottom or whatever – a difficult, but essential task to face. Full-time mothers become experts at this task. Children who are raised in an orphanage seldom have this attention and are thus highly at risk of personality disorders. Basic critical skills such as sitting, standing, walking and the beginnings of speech need to be developed during this stage.


Autonomy versus shame

Stage two – autonomy versus shame. (18 months to three years) As the child begins to develop the above skills, he starts to become increasingly independent from the parents. It is during this stage that he ought to develop his own personal identity. Until this stage, his identity is basically an extension of his mother’s. To develop his own identity separate from his mother, he begins to rebel and oppose her. This phenomenon is known as the ‘terrible twos’.


Once you realise what is happening here, it does not become so frustrating because it ought to be comforting to know that your child’s social development is on track. He is competing with you, so set up competitions with him to achieve compliance. Instead of having a half an hour standoff with him to get him into the bath, rather say: “Let us see who can get into the bath first – you or your brother!” At this stage, they respond well to competition. If parents oppose this fight for independence, the child develops shame instead of autonomy and may not ever become a confident individual.


Initiative versus guilt

Stage three – initiative versus guilt. (Three to five years) Having developed a certain amount of autonomy and a personal sense of identity, the child now begins to flex his muscles and starts to develop skills to achieve desired goals. These include social, emotional and physical skills. By now, he is probably in preschool learning the basics of numeracy and literacy.


Undue criticism of his competency regarding the mastering of these skills will result in him being reluctant to attempt associated tasks, because he might have developed feelings of shame and guilt and will then lack the confidence he requires to become a successful, fully functional person.


Practical examples

Learning to achieve goals builds confidence. If a goal is set too low for a child, he soon becomes bored. If the goal is set too high, he loses confidence and develops what we call achievement anxiety. Parents should guide their children in learning to set goals that are just right for the child.


For example, Dad buys a basketball outfit for a child six years of age to encourage the skill of playing basketball. He raises the pole according to the international height. He then challenges the child to sink a ball in the basket. Unless that child is a budding Magic Johnson, the child will not sink one in ten, and so in one afternoon has become despondent and loses confidence in himself and will probably never attempt to shoot another goal.

What should the father have done? A wise father would have put the pole at a height where the child would have shot six out of ten at least. Once the child is shooting eight out of ten, you raise the goal height slightly and so you go on until such time that the child can shoot eight out of ten at the international height.

The same goes for other activities such as puzzle building. You do not give a five-year-old a puzzle to build that is recommended for eight-year-olds. Repeat the saying ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again’.

By example, teach your child to handle losing a challenge. Parents ought to lose games they play with their children now and again. Upon losing, the parent should have a good chuckle – showing the child it is not the end of the world if you do not win all the time.


I trust that I have helped you with a greater understanding of how to raise a confident child.



*IMPORTANT NOTICE. A-well balanced diet, both during pregnancy and after delivery, helps sustain an adequate supply of breastmilk. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first 6 months of life followed by the introduction of adequate nutritious complementary foods, along with sustained breastfeeding up to two years of age and beyond.


“NANKID® 4” is not a breast-milk substitute. As babies grow at different rates; seek advice with your health professionals on the appropriate time when your baby should start receiving this product.


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