The process of cultivating confidence in children and young people is a combination of biology and environment – and adults play a key role. Parents, teachers, grand parents and any key influencers with a role to play in early years development will have an impact on confidence levels.

That’s not to say brothers, sisters, friends or those at school, will not have an influence – but adults will have the biggest influence in the formative years.

Its important to have a quick look at how this process between biology and environment works, and how the early years can impact on confidence levels.

Confidence and the early years
From the moment it enters the world, the brain of a newborn is developing and learning at a phenomenal rate. In fact, scientists tell us that in the first few years of life, neural connections are made at the rate of 700 per second.

The neural connections are a result of the new brain developing through its 5 senses of seeing, hearing, touching smelling and tasting. The senses provide feedback to the brain – and this is how thinking develops.

So from a very young age, the brain is forming the structures for thinking and reacting in the future. In science terms this is called developing neural pathways and connections.

Some experts also refer to this as ‘hardwiring’ of the brain, where the neurological system (the wires) lay themselves down in the brain as thought patterns. These thought patterns are used for future reference. But to the ordinary layperson – the process is called learning.

These learning’s and experiences are stored as memories in the subconscious part of the brain. They become the default pathway for future experiences that may be similar. In other words, if we come across similar experiences, the brain will look to the stored memory for guidance.

It is a fascinating process – but here lies the problem: the young brain is largely dependent on the environment in which it develops. It cannot think for itself and the early years are spent copying and storing experiences from the environment.

For example, a child brought up in a negative environment where parents are unsupportive and dismissive, will record different experiences than a child brought up in a positive environment, where parents encourage and support their child. The different environmental experiences can positively or negatively impact on confidence levels.

And scientists tell us this: the more support and encouragement children have from their environment in the early years, the more confident they are likely to be in later years.

Yes; the surrounding environment has a massive impact on the young brain. It soaks everything up, and will call on the stored memories in the future. As the young child starts to move towards its teens, the stored memories can effect how they feel and behave.

And so the environment they develop in – and what they see and hear – can be crucial to their confidence levels.

It would seem that environment forms the blueprint for a young persons development – and if it’s a positive one – confidence will be cultivated.

DOK – Founder – WMM