Building confidence builds confidence

From riding a bike to ordering new foods in a different language

When each of our children turned two, we started them on a balance bike. These low-to-the-ground two-wheelers have no pedals and no training wheels. With their feet on the ground as they walk the bike, kids can develop balance and coordinate movements, eventually building confidence to move on to a pedal bike, no training wheels necessary.

Neither Connor nor Aster ever used training wheels to learn to ride a bike. Around when each child was four, we transitioned them from a balance bike to a pedal bike. It took a wobbly day, with a few spills, crashes, skinned hands, and tears, but each child soon adapted their skills.

For Aster, Anthony walked behind her, holding onto the bottom of her bicycle seat and helping her stay steady. Eventually, though, he took his hand away. She kept going, shaky but straight. Even when she realized Daddy was no longer holding up the bike, she kept going—all the steadier now that she realized she was doing it all by herself.

As we came back to the house, she shouted, “I am confident! I am brave!”

Watch Aster learn to ride a bike

Trying, learning, and practicing skills builds confidence

Fast forward to our full-time global travels, and the seeds planted in things like learning to ride a bike come to grow into full maturity.

Looking back at this video of a very little Aster when she learned to ride a bike, it stands out to us how much her confidence has changed over the years. She used to be much more timid, especially about speaking to people she didn’t know. Now, she talks with confidence to folks such as restaurant servers. She’ll order foods she doesn’t know, sometimes in a language different to what she knows.

Whether we traveled the way we travel, Aster would have developed these skills in time. But in her growing confidence, we can draw a line from earlier activities, such as learning to read a book or ride a bike, and the open-hearted spirit of exploration she brings to our family world travels.

The secret to building confidence

There’s no top ten list necessary, no course, no tome or video series. The secret to building confidence is simply to try something new, practice, accept mistakes, apply what you learn, and keep going. That goes with pretty much anything, whether that’s trying an activity, starting a job, learning a language, going on a date, or taking a trip.

Confidence builds on itself. When you have a defeat or setback, you can still learn from it. When you have a victory or success, no matter how small, you can put it to work for the next stage of learning, doing, improving, and mastering.

Whenever we adults feel afraid of something new that we are trying to figure out, we draw on our experience, on our trust in ourselves and each other, and our willingness to put ourselves out there. But we also think back to a spring day with a tiny Aster, as she pedaled down the street, getting steadier at every moment, and returning to the house, her eyes bright, as she called out her truth:

I am confident! I am brave!

So are you.

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.

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