How Laughology’s PSHE lessons improve children’s self-confidence

PSHE Lessons pupil

Self-confidence is one of the themes in Laughology’s Happy-Centred School PSHE programme. This blog explains why it is so important for children to be self-confident. It also gives some top tips for PSHE lessons, that you might like to try with your class.

Why is self-confidence important?

At Laughology, we know that F.E.A.R. can be ‘false expectations, appearing real’. Everyone has fears. Some are rational, such as when we are placed in actual danger. Others are completely irrational. Although we know that a tiny money spider is not going to kill us, the fear has some people jumping on a chair, with a broom in their hand. Whether our fears are well-founded or have no logical reason to back them up, they can have a huge impact on our feelings, thoughts and actions. In the worst-case scenarios, fear can be debilitating.

For children to be successful, they need to be able to manage and overcome their fears, worries, limiting beliefs and problems. They need to be confident in their own ability and realise that confidence is not a given. It is developed through practice, hard work, effort and mastery.

Children also need to be confident to make little and big decisions. Rather than saying to the teacher, ‘I haven’t got a pencil,’ children should be able to independently find the right equipment for the task. When they get to the bottom of the page, they should know that they need to turn over, without checking with an adult.

As they get older, children need to be able to recognise that it’s okay to say no, and not bow down to peer pressure – particularly if others are encouraging them to behave inappropriately or dangerously. They should have the confidence to be themselves and be happy in their own skin, without worrying about what others think or say.

How can PSHE lessons help children become more self-confident?

By starting to actively teach the skills from a young age, and adopting a whole school approach, self-confidence and increased independence can be built up over time.

For example, in Year 1 PSHE lessons, Laughology’s Happy-Centred School programme encourages teachers to talk to children about the importance of having a go, doing our best and having a can-do attitude. Adults role play scenarios in which they are constantly asking for help: to put on their coat, to tie their shoelaces or to find the end of the sellotape.

We know that humour is a powerful tool in helping others to understand and learn. Teachers and teaching assistants who overact, whine, sulk and strop are bound to get a giggle as children begin to see some of their own reactions mirrored, and realise that these aren’t the most helpful behaviours when faced with a challenge.

If adults then model a more resilient approach, with a running commentary, children gain a better understanding of how to be successful.

‘I’ve tried running my finger nail around the sellotape one way, so now need to try the other way. I still can’t find the end of the sellotape, so I’m going to move to a brighter part of the classroom and look even more carefully. Nope! Now I’m going to look in the drawers to find a magnifying glass. Aha! There it is.’

Once the children understand the behaviours that you are looking for, they are given cards or post-its with challenging, but achievable, tasks on.

At the end of the lesson, children are asked to reflect on the activity. What did they find difficult and why? Did anyone keep going when they wanted to give up? Did anyone manage to do something that they’ve not been able to do before? How did it feel? By rewarding the positive behaviours, it encourages others to want to emulate these in the future.

Finally, it’s important for children to understand why they need to be confident to do things for themselves. After all, when they go to work their mum, dad or Year 1 teacher won’t be available to help them with their coat or to find a pencil for them.

Of course, creating a class and school full of children with self-confidence not only helps them. It will help teachers and teaching assistants with their jobs too, as children will be more prepared and able to have a go, rise to challenges, learn from their mistakes and manage their emotions. Who knows, next time you make models there might not be ten sobbing children lining up in front of you each waving a roll of sellotape in the air!

What else can we do to help children become more confident?

  • Help children to understand how a confident person behaves and talks, compared to someone who is lacking confidence. This might be through sorting images, watching film clips or asking them to act out the different emotions.
  • Give children a wide range of vocabulary to indicate confidence. Talk about inner belief, optimism, courage and determination, so that children understand what these traits are and the importance of them.
  • Help children to realise that they might be more confident in certain situations, and how success and strategies in one area of their life can translate to another. For example, a child who keeps practising their free kicks in football, might benefit from applying the same persistence to their handwriting.
  • Set the class tricky challenges, which require perseverance and resilience. Learning ‘The Haka’ not only takes them through a tricky learning process, until they find it easier, it also gives them a confident war cry which they can employ at a minute’s notice – maybe just before they do their first SATs paper?
  • Plan opportunities for children to make mistakes and fail. Then give them the strategies to learn from these events and improve, perhaps by: working better as a team, learning from a friend or using the four Bs (brain, board, book, buddy) before asking an adult.
  • Provide them with lots of famous role models, who have overcome difficulties and self-doubt, to become stronger.

And finally …

There are lots of other lessons in the Happy-Centred School programme's Self-Confidence theme. Unfortunately, we’re not able to share them right now, as a spider has just entered the Laughology office and we’re all standing on chairs, frantically looking for a broom!

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