Pour Your Heart Out: A Child’s Confidence

I can still remember the bobby pins holding my bun tight in place.

A gold crown fastened atop the bun.

Sequins sparkling, yellow tutu swishing back and forth.

Ready to take the spotlight and dance.

Not a doubt in my mind that I’d do a wonderful job.

That I was a perfect ballerina.

I was the same age that my oldest is now.

And I see that same excitement in him, that same confidence.

Not in ballet, of course.

But in the way that he thinks he can do anything, the way that he gets excited over being a part of things: or how he thinks he’s the star in his own show.

I hope he keeps that confidence.

That he always feels assured that he will kick ass at whatever he tries(though I hope he doesn’t say it like that until he’s much older).

That total self-belief is hard to hang onto as we get older.

We see others who can do things better than we can, we worry about how we’ll perform, and if we’re good enough.

And we don’t want to appear too cocky, so sometimes we downplay our own abilities.

But confidence can carry you a long way. It can be the difference in succeeding and failing.

Though I’ve managed to reclaim a lot of my own self-confidence and even learned that it’s okay to fake it(and oh, can I fake confidence), I have never quite captured that same fearlessness of that tiara’ed seven year-old.

Maybe if I start wearing a tiara again….

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  1. says

    So, One of my best friends and I still wear ours. :)  Every once in awhile we will have get togethers where we put them on. Because – you do feel like a million bucks. (or a freak show) – but we go for a million. I say wear it. With pride. Because (fake it or not) – you exude confidence. 
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  2. says

    I’m trying to instill that same kind of confidence in my child. I don’t remember ever having it, and I want her to meet life head-on instead of rather timidly like her mom has done. I’m glad you remember it, and I’m glad your son is that way too. I hope he holds on to that belief for a long, long time.

    And I think the idea of a tiara is splendid!
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    • Shell says

      I think girls are sometimes taught to be more modest- and that ends up translating into not being confident because it’s taken too far. 

  3. says

    Children can be so brave and strong, I wish it was easier to hold on to that confidence as we get older, not compare ourselves so much to others or feel so bad about what we think our shortcomings are. That’s so awesome you see that confidence in your son and remember it from your own childhood. I think even having that memory can help us later in life when we need to summon some of that strength for ourselves. Great post!
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  4. says

    My brother and sister are at that stage, one even jumped off the roof the other day. It’s their confidence that helps me build mine and I love that about them (and all kids, in general)! 

    Oh, and I say pull out the tiara! 😉
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  5. says

    LOVE this! :) I am probably more confident now than I have been since I was a young kid. And I still have a long ways to go. Maybe I should get a tiara too! :) 

  6. says

    My mom and I used to talk about this with my son too… luckily for him, he still pretty much does excel at everything he does… My Girl, she is confident about things she likes, but that whole, ‘I can’t do it, this is too hard” has always been a part of her. It’s hard to know how to help them keep the confidence while instilling humility and grace!

    Wear the tiara. You’d totally rock the tiara!
    Sorta Southern Single Mom recently posted..PYHO: Sunday ReflectionsMy Profile

    • Shell says

      It is a balance. I want my kids to have that humility, but not so much of it that they downplay everything they can do. I was taught to do that and I think it went too far. 

  7. says

    Awww- your picture is so sweet!
    It’s so easy for us to feel confidence for our kids- we think they’re so great (and they are) but why is it so difficult to impart those same feelings as adults to ourselves. I can fake it too, but when did we lose it?

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  8. says

    Cute picture.  The other day, I was telling my mom that when I was little, I remember thinking that I wasn’t little.  I felt like an adult…always.  My mom said it was my confidence.  I still have some of that confidence, but like you said, it’s really hard to hang onto all of it.
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  9. says

    oh i definitely feel you on this one. i pray she exudes so much confidence in everything she does, but especially just with who she is… the first step is to lead by example. it’s tough some times, but when i think of her, it’s easier to be confident.
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  10. says

    I love the picture! Somewhere between high school and college my confidence took a dip and it wasn’t until my mid twenties that I recovered it so I really hear what you are saying. I think experience is a great confidence builder; doing things out of your comfort zone and getting ok with failing or feeling the high of succeeding. Knowing that you’ll be there one way or another; it’s important to learn. Thanks for a thoughtful post!
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  11. steph says

    I agree…and wish there weren’t so many things (magazines, schools, etc.) working against boosting confidence. I know you didn’t mean to offend, but I certainly hope  you support all those male dancers out there!!

    • Shell says

      Of course I didn’t mean to offend. Simply meant that we don’t see that in him in ballet because he’s a soccer kid. 

  12. says

    Such sweet childhood memories. You’re so right, our self-confidence can fade as we grow older. Some because of unfortunate circumstances and some because of some kind of fear they carry within their hearts. Whatever it is, it does take its toll on the level of our self-confidences. However, everyone can improve their confidence if they choose to. You’re already teaching your son to be confident. In his own strengths, abilities and in his own skin. Not in comparison to others because when we compare ourselves to others, we almost always come out short.
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  13. says

    I’ve never had confident which is why I never did anything as a kid. I’d be happy to throw a tiara your way. We’ve got about a dozen to spare. And might I point out that you could basically stick a tiara on any one of your boys and they’d look exactly like you? I never noticed it before! 
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    • Shell says

      I’d love one. 

      You should see my boys beside my Hubs, though. They are his clones. Especially the youngest. 

  14. says

    Amen, friend.  We all need to reclaim our awesome.

    It’s funny – I remember a very small window of time when that confidence existed.  I’m pretty sure that once I started school it vanished.  But oh, I was the most fierce four year old you ever saw! 😉
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  15. says

    You should so wear a tiara again.

    It’s weird how kids can be so different.  

    My oldest, when he was your son’s age, wouldn’t want to try anything he knew he couldn’t do perfectly.  Left of to him, he would of only read and played video games.  I had to heavily encourage him to do recreation sports before high school and to join the marching band (which he L O V E S).

    My next, is overly confident sometimes.  He seems awfully cocky sometimes, but he is the most determined child I have.

    My daughter, oh how I wonder how I have failed her so.  Only 8 and she lacks any self confidence.  I am constantly trying to build her up to believe in herself.  She can do wondrous things, but holds herself back.

    My youngest, he is hard to read…some days he can move mountains.  Others, he can barely move his feet.  LOL

    It’s odd you posted this today.  I was having a talk with myself today (not aloud, all in my head), after kind of discouraging my 11 year old from starting band next year.  I wanted to make sure I discouraged him for the correct reasons and not for selfishness on my part.  It all made me wonder if I was affecting his self confidence.
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    • Shell says

      It’s hard to know how our decisions will affect our kids. 

      And how different they all are. 

    • Shell says

      Thank you. 

      I wonder if my hubs would think I’d lost if if he came home to find me wearing one.

  16. says

    its’s amazing to me that all 3 of my children – though raised in the same home – by the same parents – with the same rules and much voiced encouragement: all have different levels of confidence. My eldest, he’s the worrier and hesitant to charge in. always questioning; fear of failure can sometimes hold him back. My middle girl – pretty much charges right in; very few cirumstances give her a moment’s pause. And the youngest? well currently she is balancing on the back of a chair convinced if she just does a small jump, she will be able to reach that thing way up high! and if she misses? she’ll climb back up and try again. maybe stack something on the chair this time: you can see it on her face “I’ll get it by George!”
    Reflection of my own journey in confidence as a parent?
    I might be on to something there…
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  17. says

    I am constantly trying to reinforce the confidence of my girls, any children in our extended family, close family friends and the girls on the teams I coach. I couldn’t agree with you more on this. I used to believe in myself and now I let doubt creep in and make me feel like I can’t do anything good enough. I am working on building it back up but it isn’t easy. Maybe I will go dig my tiara out of my wedding memory box and put it on when I am feel that doubt lurking around a corner.
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    • Shell says

      I think that it’s harder in girls. A confident male is applauded and a confident woman is seen as vain. At least sometimes. And that’s not right. 

  18. says

    Every now and again my daughter shares her tiaras with me. I totally feel what you’re reflecting on. 😉 The only tiara I ever had was from my wedding day. I loved it. I think it seriously takes over our bodies and creates a confidence we often forget is there. Beautiful post, Shell.
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  19. says

    This may be a little long… 

    We are Catholic and last night we parents had a class for those of us who have children about to receive their First Communion.  I was thinking back to when I received mine and how proud and happy I was…

    Later, after I got back to my son and I told him how we were at the meeting to learn how to help him learn about the miracle of this event and the importance of the sacrament he said something so amazing.  He said, “Mom, I cannot wait to walk up there and this time be able to get my own Eucharist!  I’m going to walk with my head held high!!”  Anyway, I know that’s a long and “religious” 😉 comment but I just wanted to reiterate the innocent confidence that we DO have as children and yes, if only we could have it as adults as well.  This kinda goes along with my post, in a way, huh?  

    I think we should all start wearing tiaras!! 😉

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  20. says

    I look at my girls and I am amazed and ridiculously happy at their ability to be so comfortable in their own skin. They exude self confidence and nothing makes me more satisfied as a mother. Especially because confidence is a tenuous thing for me. That little voice of self-doubt whispers to me a lot and I try my hardest to shush it. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. 

    I think it should be a fashion law, (along with leggings should never be worn as pants), that tiaras should hold their rightful place in the fashion world. In fact, there should be a day every week designated to the wearing of tiaras. We would all be better for it.
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    • Shell says

      I love that your girls are so confident!

      I have to tell you- I only recently bought a pair of leggings. And I absolutely love them, but I always think Joann says these should not be worn as pants, would what I’m wearing be okay with her? LMAO

  21. says

    I too wish I had the confidence that my 5 year old has. She’s knows withoput a doubt that she will conquer but all I see is me and my failings.

  22. says

    I can soooooo relate.  My hope is for my boys to never have their confidence and self-esteem broken like I’ve experienced in the past.  This is a great post…thank you for putting yourself out there!
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  23. says

    That unchallenged confidence in children is a beautiful thing to witness and probably in my top five favorite things about being a mother. Ironically, I have as you say so perfectly “reclaimed some of my confidence” through motherhood. Being a mom has been both the most challenging to my confidence AND the map to finding it again. Or perhaps finding it for the first time…I have to think about that one!
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  24. says

    So true. At 7, you didn’t think to worry about the criticisms of others or how you stacked up. Now, influence is everywhere. I’ve been on a mission to quiet my own judgments/questions about my own abilities lately and just be in the moment. When I succeed, it’s liberating.
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  25. says

    I am ALL for wearing a TIARA once in a while. Goodness knows it’s deserved, esp in your case :)

    I also agree that our confidence takes a dive after about 10 yrs old and reappears as much as it can at about 35. I still don’t have it all back, but I wish I did. I look at you and see so much accomplisment, so much to be proud of and I’m thrilled that you are feeling it or faking it…because either way it’s REAL and you should.

    I really liked/needed to read this today…maybe we should start a Tiara Club….celebrating our confidence.


  26. says

    OMG, you were such a cute little muchkin, Shell! I totally get this. It’s hard to hold on to that confidence so many years later, especially when in childhood, everything seems possible. We just have to remember that sometimes we can still make certain dreams come true, too.
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  27. says

    I don’t remember ever having that type of confidence :o(   I wish I did back then and that I did now. My confidence is better than it used to be, but still needs a lot of work.

    I’m reading through all of the posts, even though I’m not participating this week!!
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  28. says

    I think about this all of the time, especially when I see my son run so exuberantly over to the neighbor’s house when he sees the kids out playing.  Even though they are a couple years older than him, he is so confident that they will be just as eager to play with him as he is to play with them.  I certainly was not like this as a child.  I would stand timidly on the fringe waiting for someone to invite me to play.  How I admire his confidence in himself as a friend and person that people want to be around.
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  29. says

    This sort of jerked a tear with me. It’s so true that we have this innocent confidence at that age. We haven’t experienced heartbreak or so many of the other confidence shattering things the world has to offer up. My son is 7 too, and he’s going to be a chef, a shamu trainer, a famous artist, and a husband and a father. And let me tell you. I pray he accomplishes ALL of it! And if he has anything to do with it, he’ll be sporting purple crocs on his feet and and hot pink baseball bat in his hand! LOL He’s confidence personified. I wish I could sell it. 

    Clip to my 13 year old…he’s had a harder time in life. Things don’t always seem to flow for him. ( I know you know what I’m talking about.) He has a harder time envisioning his future. He never can quite put his finger on his dreams and desires. I can tell it’s filled with self doubt. He questions whether he’ll be good at this or that. I hate it. Curse this stupid world that breaks our kids. I wish I could slap it, punch it in the face, and spit on it sometimes! 

    Great post!
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  30. says

    I don’t know why, but I am totally tearing up. I guess it is because it all just so…sweet. You look adorable. You look happy, fearless…confident. Your son is those things now. My son, also 7, is those those things now on many days. I wish I could bottle up that passion, that excitement for life. I loved this, Shell.
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  31. says

    I had a teacher knock my confidence and call me a braggart. Which…is horrible. Maybe I was? I don’t know but…I’ve never been sure of myself since.

    I’ll buy you a tiara next time I see you 😉
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    • Shell says

      Ugh, how awful. Teachers don’t always realize how a flippant comment can really stick with us.

      Tiaras all around at the next conference. 

  32. Angie says

    Such a cute picture! I would love to have that confidence and my outgoing personality back!!

  33. says

    I remember that “I can do anything” feeling and so wish I could get that back. I love when I watch my children and they have that look of pride on their face. There is nothing like it! I think the tiara wearing would do the trick! :)
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  34. says

    I remember watching Alex dance in the grocery store isle once and I longed just to be able to let go and dance with her– as yes that freedom and confidence of childhood is wonderful.

    Love the picture!
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  35. Kim says

    I totally thought that you captured Bear being silly wearing a tiara!!
    It is hard to keep that confidence. So many people tell you that you aren’t good enough, not pretty enough, etc.
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    • Shell says

      It’s hard when there are people tearing you down. Even my mom telling me when I was a child that it was a good thing I was smart because I wasn’t getting by on my looks. Gee, thanks, Mom. 

  36. says

    i am terrible with confidence. Do you know how many times I read then re-read posts before i publish them and then I still worry if they’re even good enough..gah!

    • Shell says

      I understand that! Sometimes, I have to make myself stop reading or I know I’ll never hit that publish button.

  37. says

    So very true. I’ve been thinking about this a lot too lately – how to instill the nurture confidence in my kids. It’s amazing when I see it shine through in my boys and I wish that I carried more of that within myself. However, I did recently buy some sparkly headbands for working out and boy, when I have those on, I feel like I can conquer anything!
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    • Shell says

      Faking it helps. 

      Glad you linked up! I am only about halfway through, but I’m getting to yours soon! 

  38. says

    My daughter is 8 and she is full of self confidence (most of the time) but the problem we are having is that she is coming off as arrogant with that self confidence. She walks around talking about how awesome she is. We are trying to teach her to act awesome instead of saying she is awesome. But I do hope that she never loses her confidence in herself. 
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    • Shell says

      It can be a fine line.

      I was taught to always downplay my abilities. To the point of taking it too far. 

  39. says

    How cute were you?! My mom kept all of our dance recital costumes. I had a yellow one that I will never forget. Somewhere along the line, I lost my free spirit and confidence. I used to be such a social butterfly but that seemed to change when I became a mother.

    I know I need to work harder at believing in myself so my kids learn this skill themselves!
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    • Shell says

      I lost mine in junior high and started to get it back after college. Though I could definitely still use help.

  40. says

    I wish we could have the same confidence and fearlessness of our younger selves. I try to remind myself what do you really have to lose? But even then it is still sometimes hard to put yourself out there and take those chances!!
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  41. says

    I never know how to react when people note how “confident” I appear to be. I don’t know whether to laugh because it’s all such bravado, or cry because they really have no idea how exhausting it is to live inside my own head with all the self-doubt. 

    I marvel at my 2YO’s confidence. In her mind, there’s pretty much nothing she can’t do. She’ll walk right up to a group of kids on the playground and join them in their play. It’s such a marked difference from me at that age. I never had that confidence; not in making friends or otherwise. And one of my biggest hopes as a new mother was that she didn’t “inherit” that quality from me. Right now, it appears she didn’t – and so I just pray that she continues to approach life with the type of gusto I never had as a child. 
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  42. says

    I have confidence in some aspects of life (work) and much less in others (home). It’s so strange to feel so different in two settings yet I’m the same person. I hope my daughter never lacks confidence or at least never lets her lack of confidence make her feel like less of a person – this is always on my mind.
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