The Power of Camp: A Confidence-Building Journey
Camp environments inherently cultivate positive reinforcement, teamwork, and personal growth. I have witnessed first-hand the igniting a sense of accomplishment and self-worth in my own children.
The camp setting offers a safe space for kids to explore their unique strengths and talents, fostering a profound sense of confidence, belonging and acceptance.
We've had quite a few amazing experiences at a range of camps in the Toronto area this year (links posted below) which have all presented unique challenges for each of my kids, but have, quite literally, supported their ability to tackle life's challenges in a way that their regular school routine could never match.
As parents, we understand the profound impact of building confidence on our children's lives, particularly for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Research consistently reveals that children with ADHD often grapple with low self-esteem and self-doubt, making confidence-building interventions crucial for their overall well-being and success.
After watching both my children thrive, in different ways, at all the camps this summer, I can't help but feel exhilarated by their growth.
We celebrated their latest achievements at bike camp this week - reminding both of them that they should be so proud of their efforts and ability do 'hard things' even when they think they can't.
This understanding that they will eventually 'get it' if they just keep trying and keep practicing, to me - is our life's work as parents. I'm so grateful that our kids have the privilege to participate in skills-based camps.
It has definitely not been easy to keep trying each day (that's a serious understatement). But, watching them thrive and develop a sense of accomplishment and an understanding of what it means to persevere is unbelievably invaluable.
The Impact of Confidence on ADHD
Many studies have substantiated the critical connection between confidence and ADHD symptoms in children. Research shows that children with higher levels of self-esteem exhibited fewer ADHD symptoms and demonstrated better social functioning. Low self-esteem in children with ADHD is linked with significant academic challenges and emotional distress.
As parents, we have to try to remember it from our point of view, when we stand in a room in front of our colleagues to present our ideas, our confidence has a big impact on our ability to convey these ideas effectively...the same goes for our children, but they lack our ability to self-regulate - so it's a double-whammy for them (well, some of us - myself included - are still working on the self-regulation thing)!
Confidence serves as a robust protective factor that can effectively mitigate the challenges posed by ADHD symptoms.
When children believe in their abilities, they are more inclined to persevere in tasks, what we call 'stick-with-it-ness' and are able to adeptly cope with setbacks and bravely tackle challenges with an optimistic mindset.
The benefits of heightened confidence extend beyond the psychological realm, contributing to improved self-regulation, smoother social interactions, and reduced anxiety.
School, sports and activity commitments become more positive experiences, fueling the fire to take on challenging experiences in the future.
After doing some implementing of a little research (cause, you know, that's my MO) I came up with a few tips thats I could offer other parents in my situation:
Supporting Your Child's Confidence Growth
In my ADHD programs, one of my most requested services are scripts to support my parent clients in navigating difficult situations and boosting kids confidence.
Here are a few that can help:
"I believe in you." Let your child know that you have faith in their abilities and that you trust them to handle challenges.
"You are capable of anything you set your mind to." Encourage them to believe in their potential and remind them that they have the power to achieve their goals.
"You should be so proud of yourself for trying your best." Praise their efforts, even if they encounter setbacks. Emphasize the importance of trying and learning from experiences.Notice the emphasis on being proud of themselves - their behaviour should never seek approval from you.
"Mistakes are a natural part of learning. Let's see what we can learn from this." Normalize making mistakes and view them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
"You're doing a great job at handling this situation." Recognize their ability to cope with challenges and provide positive reinforcement.
"I'm here for you, no matter what." Offer reassurance that you are always there to support and encourage them.
"It's okay to ask for help when you need it." Encourage them to seek assistance when they feel overwhelmed, emphasizing that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
"You handled that situation really well." Acknowledge their successful problem-solving and decision-making skills.
"Remember when you faced [a similar situation] before? You handled it so wonderfully, and I know you can do it again." Remind them of their past successes to boost their confidence in handling current challenges.
"I know it's challenging, but I believe in your ability to figure it out." Show faith in their problem-solving skills and determination.
"It's okay to take breaks when you need them. You're doing great." Encourage self-compassion and the importance of self-care.
"I love all of parts of who you are." Reaffirm your unconditional love and acceptance, letting them know they are valued and cherished.
Be patient, kind, and encouraging, and tailor these statements to suit your child's personality and needs. Your positive reinforcement and loving support will make a significant impact on their confidence-building journey.
A Post-Camp Hydration Smoothie for Supporting ADHD
After a fun and active camp day at camp, it's crucial to replenish your child's body with essential nutrients and re-hydrate. For children with ADHD, a post-camp hydration smoothie can be a great way to support their well-being and maintain focus and energy.
The Hydration and Brain-Boosting Benefits:
Coconut water is a natural hydrator, providing essential electrolytes like potassium and sodium, which are vital for post-camp recovery and optimal brain function.
Ripe bananas are a great source of natural sweetness and potassium, an electrolyte that helps maintain nerve function and supports focus and attention.
Fresh pineapple chunks offer a generous dose of vitamin C and antioxidants, promoting a healthy immune system and overall well-being.
Cucumber slices provide hydration and help cool the body after outdoor activities, while also contributing to the smoothie's refreshing taste.
Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which support cognitive function and contribute to improved focus and attention.
Cucumber Coconut Pineapple Smoothie Recipe
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
1 cup coconut water (for hydration and electrolyte balance)
1 ripe banana (for natural sweetness and potassium)
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks (rich in vitamin C and antioxidants)
1/2 cup cucumber slices (to keep the body cool and hydrated)
1 tablespoon chia seeds (excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids)
1 tablespoon honey (optional, for added sweetness)
Ice cubes (as desired)
In a blender, combine the coconut water, ripe banana, fresh pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, and chia seeds.
Blend the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
Taste the smoothie and add honey if desired, for a touch of sweetness.
Add a few ice cubes and blend again until smooth.
To cater to individual taste preferences, you can adjust the sweetness by adding or reducing honey.
For a creamier texture, consider adding a splash of coconut milk or any non-dairy milk of your choice.
This smoothie can also be enjoyed as a delicious and nutritious snack at any time, not just after camp.
Including this post-camp hydration smoothie in your child's diet can be an easy way to recharge their body and mind after an active camp experience. The combination of hydrating ingredients and brain-boosting elements makes it an ideal choice for supporting your child's well-being, focus, and confidence on their journey with ADHD.
Camps We Loved This Summer
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BA Hons., B Ed., RHN, CNE, OCT
Metabolic Balance® Coach
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Care-Informed & Health At Every Size® (HAES®) Nutritionist