Giving Your Child An Edge Through Developing Their Self-Efficacy
I have taught in three schools thus far. In most of these institutions, when my boss, be it the headmaster opens up my file, they will always assign me to teach public speaking. I was a school rep and have coached my students in public speaking for a bit now. No matter what the age, I come to find a common trait among those who fear public speaking. The best way to describe this is through the theory of ‘self-efficacy’.
Self-efficacy is a theory by Albert Bandura. A short description of the theory can be found here (source). A shorter description of self-efficacy is one’s confidence in tackling a particular task. The thing is, as teachers or parents, there are other aspects to look into when assessing a child’s self efficacy. For one, it involves the child evaluating themselves and concluding if they are able to complete a certain task. This includes assessing their peers and comparing those peers to themselves. Aside from that, a child, when evaluating self-efficacy takes into account a child their past experiences as well. If past experiences were positive, naturally, a child is more than willing to complete a task.
Self-Efficacy vs Self-Esteem
Many would assume that self-efficacy and self-esteem are the same thing. Woofolk (2010) compared both concepts quite aptly by stating that self-efficacy is your ability to judge if you are able to complete a task. However, self-esteem is your assessment of your overall self-worth. As educators or parents, you may find a child to be extremely timid. The child may be unwilling to try out anything at all. Interestingly though, there will be one thing that this child is fond of doing. It could be drawing or a particular sports.
As such, a parent or teacher can capitalize on such knowledge. This can be achieved through developing a child’s willingness to try activities that they are less confident in. This is because it is unnecessary to work on the general self-esteem of the child but their confidence in certain specific tasks. If done right, it develops the child’s ability to face hardships and failures. The reason is that they know that they are capable of accomplishing a particular task and this would help them grow, be it in their studies or sports.
This in part can also be attributed to the Matthew effect. The Matthew effect refers to the verse found in the bible, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Similarly, the students who try will learn more, the more they learn, the better they become. However, the less willing they are to try, the less they would learn and that may impede their learning in the long run. As such, how can we develop a child’s self efficacy?
Methods In Developing Self Efficacy
There are three methods suggested by Woofolk (2014) but I will just contextualize it. The first method is the ‘Battles Won’ (BW) method. Basically, it means that the amount of times you succeed is related to how willing you are to attempt that task. For example, if you started writing on Steemit and three months later, your post reward is less than 10 cents, it is likely that you will feel that you are not adept at it and would give up. Conversely, if you were to receive a 30 dollar upvote on your first post, I think it will be a rather different story.
The BW method is applied through gradually raising the difficulty of a skill you want your child to acquire. In teaching swimming for example, first teach the child how to place his or head in the water and exhale. Once they are able to do it, make a big deal out of it, clap, praise and yell ‘GOOD JOB’. This would raise their self-efficacy towards the task and they will be more than willing to attempt the next task, such as jumping into the deep end.
The next method is what Woofolk calls, vicarious experiences. I however refer to it as role modelling. Many children or even adults have a role model that they look up to. If that particular person is able to, and willing to accomplish a particular task, the child will follow suit, thinking that he/she is able to as well. It is akin to FOMO (fear of missing out) where the child thinks that if their friend is able to do something, so should they. As such, a teacher can capitalize on this by ensuring that most of the children are able to accomplish an easy task before moving on to the next task.
There is one final method. This method of course, is verbal persuasion, although this does not always work, it is my experience that once it is used with the two aforementioned methods, it can be rather effective. Teachers, especially those that are well respected and loved by their class can wield this very effectively, often convincing them to do tasks that their parents would never be able to.
That being said, the theory of self-efficacy has been a great help all these years. Its one of those guiding theories in education that really helps in informing how the lesson should run. Its also one of those theories that can be used in the home by parents as well.
Woolfolk, A. (2010). Educational psychology (11th ed.). London: Pearson Education.