Building Self Confidence: Self-confidence Secrets of Bindi Irwin
By Michael Grose
If you saw eight year old Bindi Irwin's very assured public
performance at the memorial service for her father Steve recently
you may have thought, like me, how can someone so young be so
self-confident. You may have even compared your own children to her
at the same age and could only have wondered what is in the
Australia Zoo water, or the Irwin genes, to throw up someone so
confident so young.
On one hand, it was a little unnerving and scary to see an eight
year old publicly announce that she would continue the work of her
father. That is quite a call for a young girl.
On the other hand, I believe I saw a well-balanced, confident
girl up on that stage that had her feet planted fairly firmly on the
ground. She may have been a competent public performer but I have
the feeling that she would still have to do her chores and homework
before being tucked into bed at a reasonable time back at home. She
had 'well-grounded' written all over her.
So what it is the secret to her self-confidence? What can we
learn and apply to parenting our own children? There are possibly
eight factors working in her favor - three are due to birth and the
other five due to the environment:
She has gender working in her favor. As girls are around
eighteen months more advanced in verbal and social development
than boys they have a 'headstart' in the public performance areas.
Being a girl is an advantage.
She has birth order working in her favor. Being a first born
she has been the sole recipient of her parents' attention,
language for longer than subsequent sibling. As a first born she
is the child most likely to be the family standard bearer as
parental hopes and dreams tend to land more firmly on the
shoulders of the first born than subsequent siblings. Being a
first born and a girl are two advantages that have been maximized
She has genetics working in her favor. I am on shaky ground
with genetics but most twins studies confirm that genetics account
for around 50 per cent of a child's personality, prowess and
intelligence. As a chip of the parental block, like her father, Bindi Irwin is not backward in coming forward.
So much for nature let's look at the environmental factors:
She has rich real-life, values-rich experiences working in
her favor. If the type of experiences that a child has shapes who
they are then one can only imagine the types of experiences that Bindi Irwin was exposed to as a child. Exposure to wild-life (no
wonder she has no fear), exposure to public performances and
exposure to passionate ideas have been common fare for her. No
wonder she is so confident. I compare many of today's children to
the slum children of Victorian England who saw too much but experienced
too little. Bindi Irwin, I would imagine, has had so many, diverse, rich real
life experiences that have helped shape her into a confident,
competent little girl.
She is competent. This may be stating the bleeding obvious
but her rich experiences has allowed her to develop a sense of
competency in a public and perhaps private arena that many of us
don't have. She has developed the cycle of competency whereby
competence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
She has had exposure to amazing people. Young children take
their cues from their parents. When parents see the world as an
exciting place full of possibilities then kids are more likely to
do so as well. Martin Seligman's (author of The Optimistic Child)
research found that kids will pick up their parents' view of the
world by the age of eight, which seems to be the case with Bindi
She has developed a confident mindset. Confident kids think
differently than kids who lack confidence. They have different
mindsets. Confident kids have mindsets that practice
self-acceptance (I am okay as I am), take risks (I'll have a go
and failure doesn't reflect on me) and independence (It doesn't
matter what others think of me if I fail.) It would appear that Bindi has developed a confident mindset which is a brilliant
success and achievement skill.
She has had encouraging parents. As any parent knows the
wonderful thing about young children is they believe their
parents. Let them know through your language and treatment of them
that they are fairly capable and usually they will become that
way. Every child needs someone in their lives who says I think you
can do this. From everything I have picked up about Steve and Teri
Irwin, she had two cheerleaders (as opposed to pushers) of
Nothing ever occurs due to one factor alone. Whether it is
winning a sporting event such as Grand Final, a tragedy or even
raising a child there are always a number of factors at play to
determine an outcome. The astonishing confidence of Bindi Irwin is
due to a number of factors – part nature and part nurture. As
parents we can only work with what nature gives us. However by
providing kids with rich learning experiences, being an encourager
rather than a critic, helping them develop confident mindsets and
helping kids acquire a variety of skills we can help promote a sense
of self-confidence in kids.
Oh, and don't compare your child to Bindi Irwin. She has set the
bar incredibly high. Keep your expectations realistic and within
sight and your child is more likely to meet them.
Michael Grose is a popular parenting educator and parent coach. He
is the director of Parentingideas, the author of seven books for
parents and a popular presenter who speaks to audiences in
Australia, Singapore and the USA. For free courses and resources to
help you raise happy kids and resilient teenagers visit