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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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 in Bindi.

  3. 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:

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 Irwin.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 gigantic proportions.

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

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