What if we could help improve self-confidence in children that would benefit them at school, on the playground and in the classroom? What if this confidence went with them to university and helped them through their first job interview to land a successful job? This is a common desire among parents and educators. What if giving our kids confidence was as simple as a two minute exercise?
During a TED Talks event, Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, presented the concept of how our body language can have the ability to shape who we are. Cuddy explains how we can hold our bodies in a way that not only makes us “feel” powerful and confident, but we begin to act and become more self-confident people.
What does the research prove about improving self-confidence?
Amy Cuddy discovered certain “power poses” that can improve self-confidence like holding your arms wide and high above your head for two minutes, or sitting back with your hands behind your head and your feet up on the desk. These types of poses are what we might imagine someone with power doing. People who tend to be more timid might choose to sit in a hunched over position, or fold their arms in front of them like they were trying to hide.
According to Cuddy’s research, the people who did “power poses” for 2 minutes had lower cortisol levels and higher testosterone levels than they did before doing the “power poses.” Cortisol is a stress hormone and testosterone is the hormone that causes people to feel more confident and willing to take risks. The people who did not do power poses, but rather posed in timid, inhibited positions actually had increased cortisol levels and lower testosterone levels. These tests were done by taking saliva samples before and after the 2 minutes of posing.
How can educators improve their students’ self-confidence?
If power poses can improve the confidence of university students and adults, they can also help younger school aged children and adolescents as they go through the stresses of life. Some children struggle with being shy or not wanting to participate in class discussions. Other children may suffer from being bullied. Older students may have test anxiety or social anxiety. By teaching students how to practice “power poses,” they can also experience feeling more confident and will have lower stress levels when they are at school.