There are so many lessons to be learnt from our two-year old truth tellers. Not only do they encourage their caregivers to develop new skills (patience, multitasking, negotiation etc), they are also wonderful role models for self-confidence.
I am proud mum to a toddler and she is one of the best teachers I have ever had. In honour of this, here are some toddler-inspired tips to improve your confidence:
1. Don’t fall into the success trap.
Being a toddler is a really busy job. There is lots to do. But not necessarily lots to get done. Winning, task completion and achievement aren’t a toddler’s main source of confidence. Instead, exploring, playing and practicing are worthwhile, confidence-building pursuits in their own right.
As we move through life, it’s common to start putting conditions on our self-confidence. We give ourselves permission to be confidence once we have earnt it.
“I’ll feel more confident when I:
I weigh 5kgs less.”
am paid more.”
I’ve beaten my PB”.
When we hang our confidence on goal posts, the esteem-boost and satisfaction we feel when we achieve our goals tends to be short-lived. After we’ve celebrated, it’s human nature to set our minds to another goal and we are back to it, pursuing a new success.
Confidence cannot run on external validation alone; it also needs a practice of internal validation to sustain it. We can learn from toddlers by seeing the value in being ourselves, in our everyday activities, and celebrating our little wins along the way.
2. Focus on clear messaging.
Toddlers are very direct communicators (at times affrontingly so). We might want to add a bit more nuance and empathy to our dialogue. However, many of us would benefit from being clearer when communicating our wants, needs and ideas with confidence.
A nice place to start, is to spot and remove phrases, like the ones below:
“I might be wrong but…”
“Sorry to chase you /bother you again”
“Just checking in…”
“If that makes sense?”
These phrases crop up in emails, meetings and conversations all the time. They dilute our message and make us sound (and perhaps feel) less confident.
3. Failing = learning
Before they were toddling, toddlers had to crawl and fall. Toddlers face little and big failures every day and at every stage. There are tears and frustrations, but they keep at it. They ask questions (again and again). They ask for help and support.
Research, including Carol Dweck’s work on Mindset, shows that a ‘growth mindset’ is a huge contributor to self-confidence and resilience. Perfectionism, avoiding mistakes like the plague and critiquing our failures can leave us drained and stuck, and negatively impact our confidence.
We can take inspiration from a toddler’s confident determination to keep going, to keep failing, starting over and over again and learning from the experience.
This article was written by Emma Gill, one of Careering into Motherhood’s Partner Coaches. Emma provides career and confidence coaching for individual clients and works with organisations to help them to create more inclusive, supportive workplaces. She offers free discovery calls for prospective clients.
March 21, 2023