A healthy sense of confidence can contribute to our wellbeing. Studies exploring mental toughness for example, have examined the nature of confidence, shown the role that it plays in this aspect of wellbeing, and identified ways we can actively build our confidence.
Originating in the study of achievement in sport, the concept of mental toughness “refers to the ability to stay strong in the face of adversity; to keep your focus and determination despite the difficulties you encounter. A mentally tough individual sees challenge and adversity as an opportunity and not a threat and has the confidence and positive approach to take what comes in their stride” (Strycharczyk & Clough, 2015).
Some degree of resilience is related to mental toughness, but according to Strycharczyk & Clough resilience helps us to survive, and mental toughness helps us to prosper. Strycharczyk & Clough’s mental toughness framework posits that there are 4 key traits, the 4Cs, which contribute to this ability. They are Control, Challenge, Commitment and Confidence.
It is possible to measure and develop each of these characteristics to build our mental toughness. In the context of mental toughness confidence is defined as “having the self-belief to successfully complete tasks that may be considered too difficult by individuals with similar abilities but lower confidence” and encompasses both confidence in abilities and interpersonal confidence.
Proven ways to boost these forms of confidence, and hence contribute to greater mental toughness, include:
- Having a clear sense of meaning and purpose in life and tasks
- Being optimistic
- Seeing mistakes and failures as part of learning
- Developing effective communication skills including conversing with others and being respectfully assertive
- Being prepared to take initiative and try new things.
Many teachers have certainly been called upon this year more than ever to both practise these skills themselves, and also model them for students, in order to boost the confidence and capacity of themselves and their communities.
Participation in the Peer Support Program, as either a Peer Leader or group member, also involves students reflecting on and putting into practice all of these skills.
Confidence can of course be defined in other ways. It can also refer to the confidence that we have in others, or the feeling or belief that we can have faith in or can rely on someone. The Peer Support Program’s inclusive model of leadership and emphasis on skill development provides opportunities for teachers to increase their confidence in their students’ leadership capacities, just as the students themselves develop their own self-confidence in leading and relating.
Strycharczyk, D., & Clough, P. (2015). Developing Mental Toughness: Coaching strategies to improve performance, resilience and wellbeing.