A big part of confidence is a sense of self-worth. It is how you feel as a person within the larger world around you and within your society. It’s having the belief in oneself and one’s abilities.
So how do you build confidence in young men of color within a society that often neglects and devalues their worth?
The message communicated to young boys of color is one of doubt, negativity, and stigma. Their abilities are downplayed and even when they work twice as hard their successes are shown as the exception, not the rule. Society tells young boys of color – more times than not – what they cannot do instead of giving them the confidence to explore possibilities.
For a young boy of color, lasting confidence is the most important tool he will need to succeed in a society that expects and often sets him up to fail. Here are four strongly suggested ways to build lasting confidence in boys of color:
1. Listen when they speak.
It sounds simple, but for young boys who often feel less-than and disregarded, showing them their opinions are not only valid, but important, will give them the confidence to speak up more often.
2. Empower them to ask questions.
Young boys of color, especially in urban areas, are often told to accept their circumstances without question. They’re told their neighborhoods don’t have access to quality education, good jobs, healthy food sources or adequate healthcare, for example, because that’s just the way it is.
Inspire, encourage, and let these boys know they can affect the world around them and influence ‘positive’ change by empowering themselves to ask the right questions, getting answers, and civilly advocating for themselves.
3. Give them a platform.
Too often young boys of color are described as “voiceless,” when in fact, their voices are being silenced. Give young boys of color a platform to share their stories, in their own words, through their own lens. They should know their voice is just as important as others and when it comes to sharing their unique stories, their voice has value and the ability to lead with confidence.
4. Invest in their dreams.
A young boy of color may not have the resources to own his own car, but does that mean we shouldn’t invest the time to teach him how to drive?
Investing in their dreams means putting energy into their interests, hobbies and goals, and providing them with the resources and opportunities to learn, create, and explore. Acknowledge the hard work it takes for young boys of color to achieve their goals and invest valuable time and energy into their accomplishments.
The ability to achieve anything great is worthless without the confidence to do so. Giving young boys of color a platform to share their stories, empowering them to express their opinions and ask questions, and investing time and energy into their dreams — will help them to build lasting confidence they can use immediately in building a brighter future for themselves, family and community.
For confidence to be lasting within young boys of color, it is important to foster their sense of self-worth. The work is not telling them they matter, but showing them they matter by acknowledging their inherent value to society, themselves, their family, and the world around them.
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About the Author: Ty Howard,
Mr. Untie the Knots®,
True Greatness Is — As True Greatness Does!
Ty Howard is America’s Untie the Knots® Consultant, and Capturing Greatness and Passion Expert. Over the past 21 years, he has spoken to nearly 3 million teenagers, education professionals, student leaders, student athletes, parents, fatherhood groups, youth development professionals, and associations across the nation and around the world. For information on his programs and services, visit: http://www.capturinggreatness.com.