Usually young girls are the focus of self-confidence building: the societal pressures of ideal body types, the pressure to be consistently ‘nice’ and ‘liked’, as well as restrictive gender roles all heavily contribute to a low self-image. Studies have even been done on how girls’ self-esteem plunges during puberty.
A lack of self-confidence can follow girls into adulthood, but what is often overlooked is the self-confidence challenges that boys and young men face – and studies show that boys who have a poor self-image can become insecure – and violent – men.
A boy who lacks self-confidence will be apprehensive in all spheres of life, from being scared to try new things (because he is scared of failure), to being scared of intimacy. This has a profound impact on the man he will become, which is why it’s so important to expose boy children to self-confident men who have a healthy understanding of masculinity.
So, how do we build boyhood confidence in order to nurture better men?
There is no easy answer, but it starts with changing the narrative of toxic masculinity: the idea that boys don’t cry, and the idea that a confident man is an aggressive man.
To nurture better men we need to:
Appreciate every effort – win or lose. A boy or young man should never feel embarrassed about failing. They should not be made to feel ‘small’ or like a ‘loser’. Appreciating their efforts will make them feel valued and more motivated to learn from the experience and try again the next time.
Be open about feelings. On the flip-side, a study in the British Journal of Criminology found that boys who aren’t allowed to express their emotions display a form fearlessness that, more often than not, leads to acting out aggression against both themselves and others. Allowing boys to express their feelings – while letting them know that they will not be judged – helps them feel validated and acknowledged.
Expose boys to positive male role models. For boys to build self-confidence they need to be shown how. A positive male role model – one who is comfortable in his own skin and who has a healthy understanding of what it means to be a man – is invaluable in forging a sound sense of self.
Mentor A Boy Child is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that aims to build self-confidence in boys and young men aged between 14 and 18. It aims to provide the necessary support and skills to become confident, emotionally healthy men.
Mentor A Boy Child matches the boys with mentors who will guide them through learning a plethora of vital skills, from building self-confidence to stress management, as well as how to be positive leaders in society.
To find out more about Mentor A Boy Child and how you can help, contact them here.