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Last Updated on March 15, 2018

How to Be More Confident (the Definitive Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Be More Confident (the Definitive Step-By-Step Guide)

Confidence. It’s a powerful word and an even more powerful feeling. Can you remember a time in your life when you felt confident? A time when you felt unstoppable… on top of the world? Now imagine you could feel that way more often. What impact would that have on your health and well-being, your career, your relationships?

Not only does being confident feel good, it helps you seize potential opportunities, take more chances and make that big change or take the next step in your life and career. Life is crazy, busy and beautiful. Figuring out how to be more confident is just part of the journey.

The great news is, there are steps to building confidence that you can take wherever – and whenever you feel you’re lacking it. Often, it’s already within you and you just need a few strategies to uncover it – and I’m going to reveal these strategies to you.

Why some people lack confidence

Lack of confidence can stem from many places.

Perhaps, growing up, your parents said a certain career was outside your reach and you could ‘never do that’. Or maybe you have a belief system that says ‘I could never start my own business, I’m not entrepreneurial’.

Perhaps you had a bad experience which opened the door for self-doubt to creep in. Or maybe your inner self-critic is telling you ‘you can’t’ or ‘you’re not good enough’. Maybe (ok, likely) you’re comparing yourself to someone else – a friend, colleague or spouse.

Or perhaps you feel there is something missing in your life – a relationship, the dream job, kids, a degree or title.

In my work with thousands of clients, it seems most (if not all) of us struggle with confidence in some area, or at some point in our lives. Whether that be confidence in our appearance, abilities, relationships, careers, decision making, and social situations.

We all have crises of confidence. Times we are self-conscious and moments of self-doubt. And, if your lack of confidence is keeping you in a bad job or poor relationship — or keeping you from moving forward in your life or career, you’re not alone.

What makes confident people different from others

Confident people believe in themselves and have a positive mindset. People lack confidence feel insecure about themselves and their decisions.

Let’s take a look at this infographic which illustrates the differences between a confident person and an insecure person:

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    How to be more confident (a step-by-step guide)

    So, how can you be more confident? Here’s your complete, step-by-step guide:

    1. Be specific

    First things first, let’s get specific.

    In order to tame the demon, you’ve got to name the demon. Where do you lack confidence? When do you feel self-doubt creeping in? Where do you feel your skills or abilities are limiting you? Where would you like to have more confidence?

    Once you get specific, it won’t feel so overwhelming as you’ll have something tangible to tackle.

    Maybe you want the confidence to go out on your own and start a new business? Or maybe you’d like to go back to school to get the degree you’ve always wanted? Perhaps you’d like the confidence to go on an adventure or take a trip you’ve been thinking about for some time.

    How?
    Take a moment now, identify and put into a complete statement: Where do you specifically want to have more confidence?

    2. Uncover what gives you confidence

    This is personal, so it will vary from person to person. There’s no one size fits all approach to confidence and what works for one, won’t always work for another.

    How can you figure out what gives you confidence? Think about a couple times in your life when you felt most confident.

    How?
    Now, think about what was it about those times that made you feel so empowered.

    Was it the environment you were in? Something you were doing? A feeling you had? The more you get clear about this for yourself, the easier it will be to tap into when you need it.

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    3. Be true to you

    One of the surest ways to lose confidence is try to be someone else. One of the best ways to build your confidence? Be true to yourself.

    When you’re trying to be someone you’re not, every part of you resists it. You are not everyone else. You are you. And the more you can understand who you are and what you value the stronger you will be.

    When you stray away from who you are, you lose confidence because it’s ‘just not you’.

    How?
    Think about what makes you, uniquely you. Write it down. Think about what you value and what’s important to you. Write that down, too.

    4. Remember, you are 100% smart

    When one of my daughters was in 4th grade, her teacher gave an assignment called 100% smart. In this activity, the kids had to make a pie chart and identify what percentage smart they were in each of the following areas; people, self, body, math, word, music, art.

    For example, my daughter was 25% body smart, but only 5% art smart. This was such an insightful exercise for her and something I have shared with many clients over the years. She realized that even though she lacked confidence in art, there were so many other areas where she excelled.

    This is true for everyone. So, maybe you’re not the best public speaker, but are you a great parent, smart with your money, or creative?

    Too many people spend way too much time trying to improve, change, be more of this or less of that. Instead, what if you spent more time acknowledging your talents, skills and successes?

    How?
    Try this for one week: at the end of each day, write down at least 3 things that you did well, felt good about, or were proud of yourself for. Know your strengths, know your talents and know you’re 100% smart.

    5. Stop comparing yourself

    Nothing zaps your confidence more than comparing yourself to others. Especially now, with social media and the wonderful opportunity to judge yourself against so many others! Lack of confidence comes from a gap in where you see yourself and where you think you should be.

    Imagine you are preparing to give a big presentation or speech. So you do your research, which includes watching some of the best speakers in the world doing their Ted Talks. Of course you are going to feel inferior.

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    How?
    Stop comparing yourself to others. Just stop. If you still feel a compelling need to compare – compare yourself to yourself. Measure how far you’ve come. See how much improvement you’ve made. Acknowledge your wins and successes.

    6. Realize you are enough

    This may sound a little bit corny, but try it. This positive affirmation will resonate at a deep level and have a powerful effect on your subconscious.

    How?
    Every day for the next 21 days repeat this mantra. “I am enough”. Don’t just say it, but feel it, deeply, at the core of who you are.

    Want to get more specific? Replace ‘enough’ with whatever word you’d like to ‘be’. What would give you the most confidence? I am brave. I am strong. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am confident. I got this.

    7. Acquire new skills

    Since confidence is often directly linked to abilities, one of the best ways to build your confidence is to get new skills or experience.

    Growing your skills will in turn grow your confidence. And please, as you work on building your skills and expertise, don’t mistake a lack of perfection for a lack of ability. No one is perfect. But if you’ve got a perfectionist bone in your body (like I do), it can make you think that just because you’re not the best, that you’re not good at all.

    Make sure to check yourself – am I really not good at this, or am I not good as I want to be just yet?

    How?
    Ask yourself: Is there a specific area where you are lacking confidence? How can you expand your expertise in this area?

    8. Change your state

    Changing your physical and mental ‘state’ is one of the quickest ways to access a feeling of confidence. To do this, you need to know what the state of ‘confidence’ looks, feels and sounds like for you.

    How?
    Here are a few strategies you can use to access that:

    • Remember – Think of a specific time, associated with feeling confident. Sink into that feeling deeply and moment by moment relive every detail.
    • Imagine – Imagine how you would feel if you were confident. How would you act? Feel? Be?
    • Modelling – Think about someone you know who exudes confidence. Imagine what that person would do.

    9. Find yourself a cheerleader

    Yes, while I understand confidence is a state from within, you can also boost your confidence by the people you choose to spend your time with.

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    How?
    Make a concerted effort to surround yourself with others who provide encouragement, positivity, and inspiration. Spend more time with people who ‘get you’ and see all of your greatness – and less time with those that zap your confidence or cause you to feel self-doubt.

    10. Just do it

    When Nike came up with this slogan in the late 80’s, they knew just how to get the general population off their butts and moving. Turns out, this is a great strategy for being more confident too.

    When you stand at the edge of the water; waiting, wondering, worrying if you can do something, you lose confidence. Your fears creep in and you begin to doubt yourself. But when you take a leap of faith, jump in and get started, your confidence immediately builds.

    Action builds confidence and each step you take builds it further.

    How?
    Think of one step you could take right now that would get you moving in the right direction. Then Just Do It and see what happens. An incredible thing about human brain is that once it realizes something is working, it will keep that momentum going!

      Being more confident starts with one thing — YOU.

      YOU making the decision to take action. And when all else fails, YOU can make a choice.

      YOU can choose to be confident. YOU can choose confidence over fear and self-doubt.

      Your mind believes what you tell it. If you continue to tell yourself the story that you are not confident, you will believe it and your self-doubt will continue. But if you tell yourself you can do it, that you got this, your mind will believe that too.

      Remember, fostering a strong sense of confidence is critical to experiencing overall levels of health, happiness and success.

      And once you get started you’ll be unstoppable. Be brave. Be confident. You got this.

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

      More by this author

      Tracy Kennedy

      I'm a results-driven life coach + consultant, dedicated to helping you achieve greater levels of happiness, fulfillment + success.

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      Last Updated on July 12, 2018

      17 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things

      17 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things

      A few years ago, I watched Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability. Her story, her research, her authenticity, and yes, her vulnerability resonated with me deeply. One of the concepts that stood out the most was that in order to live wholeheartedly, we must feel the full range of emotions. The positive: joy, gratitude, happiness. And the not so positive: grief, fear, shame, sadness, disappointment.

      This talk moved me, changed me and challenged me to think differently. And that is what TED talks have the power to do. They can make the hairs on the back of our neck stand up, bring us to tears, and most importantly, motivate, inspire and challenge our thinking.

      Which is why I’m so excited to share these TED Talks for kids. I’ve always had a passion for working with children; I have three daughters of my own, co-lead two local Girl Scout Troops, spent time in my career working in education and am a member of the Galileo community advisory board (an innovation camp for kids).

      I’m involved in all of these because I feel deeply how important it is to help our kids build their confidence, self-esteem, innovation and creativity. I want every kid to realize they are awesome just as they are. That they have the ability to make anything happen if they dream big and work hard. Imagine what that would do for our youth.

      If you Google or scour lists of top TED talks, you tend to get similar ones popping up. That’s because they’re awesome. But they’re not all appropriate for kids.

      How I shortlisted these TED Talks

      I’ve done the hard work for you. Along with my family, kids, their friends and a few others, we vetted over 100 TED Talks and picked out the 17 that I believe send powerful and inspiring messages our kids desperately need.

      So, whether your kid is 6 or 16, I hope you find something that inspires, moves, motivates and challenges them.

      • They’re short enough for young brains to stay engaged. While there is an 18 minute “rule” for TED talks, many of the most popular talks are 20+ minutes. Recently, as I toured middle schools for my daughters, one of the principals shared that a kid’s attention span is the kids age minus one. So, if you have an 11 year old, then 10 minutes is his/her attention span. You can’t expect him/her to listen to 18 minutes and stay focused the whole time. All of the talks highlighted below are under 15 minutes. Some are as short as three.
      • They all include life lessons I believe are important for today’s youth. For me, this meant searching for talks that would build confidence and self-esteem; help kids be true to themselves. Understand what makes a happy and successful life. How to dream big. To communicate, interact and treat others. Above all, these talks will help kids see that they are awesome and that anything is possible when they dream big and work hard.
      • They’re kid-friendly. You might think this is obvious, but I found many speakers share political views, curse, or share content or concepts that that could be scary or confusing for young minds. If you ask those around me, I’m probably a little overcautious about what I expose my kids too. I’m ok with that. They have plenty of time to see the darker side of the world as they age. I would be comfortable with my seven-year-old watching all of these.
      • They’re interesting. Kids need to be engaged, interested and motivated to even sit through a video. While this isn’t always easy to do, I’ve tried to find videos with likeable speakers, compelling topics and inspiring stories. And don’t worry, they’re not just for kids – these are awesome talks for adults as well.

      Top 17 Ted Talks for kids

      1. A Life Lesson From A Volunteer Firefighter (4:01)

      I started with this one because all of my kids absolutely loved it. It’s an easy entry point for kids – short and sweet with a powerful message. (And what kid doesn’t like a firefighter?!)

      Volunteer Firefighter and Activist Mark Bezos shares his story about how small things can make a big difference.

      My 11-year-old’s key takeway? “It shows we don’t have to do something big to make a difference”.

      Here’s a key piece of his message:

      “In both my vocation at Robin Hood and my avocation as a volunteer firefighter, I am witness to acts of generosity and kindness on a monumental scale, but I’m also witness to acts of grace and courage on an individual basis. And you know what I’ve learned? They all matter.”

      2. What Adults Can Learn From Kids (8:06)

      One of my 11-year-olds was riveted by this one. In fact, at one point, I tried to increase the volume on the iPad while she kept pushing me out of the way so she didn’t miss anything.

      Twelve-year-old Adora Svitak is incredible. This talk is inspiring not only because of what she says, but because of how incredible and confident this young girl is as she presents.

      Here are some of my favorite excerpts from her talk:

      “Kids don’t think about limitations…they just think about good ideas.”
      “Learning between grown-ups and kids should be reciprocal.”
      “When expectations are low, trust me, we (kids) will sink to them.”

      3. Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection (8:50)

      Recommended by several people when I was asking around, I found myself choking up in the first two minutes as Reshma shares her personal story about bravery in the face of failure.

      “This is not a story about failure or resilience…it’s about bravery.”

      She talks about our “bravery deficit”.

      “When we teach girls to be brave, and we have a supportive network cheering them on, they will build incredible things.”

      She shares one of my favorite philosophies: Progress, not perfection.

      This is a great one for those who need a little more confidence to raise their hand, try out for that team, or face an upcoming challenge.

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      4. 10 Ways To Have a Better Conversation (11:30)

      This is one of my all-time favorites. I’m becoming increasingly concerned about our kids’ ability to have a face-to-face conversation. Just look around at a restaurant and see how many kids have their faces in phones. One recent survey of managers said 46% of recent grads need to hone their communication skills.

      As someone who spent many years earning a living helping people communicate better, I think this is necessary for every kid. It’s a lost art. A skill that is becoming extinct with the world of technology.

      Radio Host Celeste Headlee provides great tips for how to have a better conversation, and, more importantly, how to listen.

      At one point, she shares this thought written in the Atlantic by a high school teacher named Paul Barnewell.

      “I came to realize that conversational competence might be the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal communications skills. It might sound like a funny question, but we have to ask ourselves: Is there any 21st Century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?”

      My older daughters both really enjoyed this talk. They learned “how important it is to listen and to think about other people, not just yourself”.

      My favorite line of all time: “There’s no reason to show you’re paying attention, if in fact, you are actually paying attention.”

      This is a great one to share with your teenagers – even if you need to text them the link?

      5. A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer… From A Teenager (10:46)

      I just love this one. Jack shares his story, how as a teenager he searched for and found a promising cure for pancreatic cancer. Motivated by the death of a close family friend, Jack shows some of my favorite attributes: thinking, process, initiative, perseverance, determination, courage…and humor. He’s a fantastic speaker and will keep your kids interested and engaged.

      One of my favorite quotes:

      “You don’t have to be a professor with multiple degrees to have your ideas valued…Just imagine what you could do.”

      “He did that all by himself?” One of my daughters asked at the end. Yep, he did. And you can, too.

      6. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (6:09)

      With three kids, I’m always driving a car full of kids somewhere. As I was researching for this article, during each of my rides, I took the opportunity to ask whoever was in the car about their recommendations. This talk was recommended by a 16-year-old high school student. (Thank you, Bella!) I had seen it before and was so glad she liked it as much as I did.

      Angela Lee Duckworth left her consulting career and became a 7th grade math teacher in the New York public school system. She was fascinated by what helped students succeed. This talk is the story of what she found.

      Here’s a quick preview:

      “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. “

      Need another reason to share this with your kid? Angela highlights that kids with grit are more likely to graduate…and be successful in their chosen careers.

      We all know how important grit and perseverance are; let’s help our children see that.

      7. Dare To Dream Big (8:49)

      With just over 22,000 views, this video hasn’t hit “mainstream” TED world yet, but Isabella Rose Taylor, a freshman in college and a working fashion designer, tells a fantastic story.

      “Today I want to talk to you about dreams and stories.”

      She shares one of my favorite stories about the 4-minute mile and how belief is such an important part of success.

      “They didn’t all the sudden get faster or stronger, they just believed it was possible.”

      The rest of her talk is filled with lessons on dreaming big, believing in yourself, courage, authenticity, and the importance of relationships.

      “We should aim as high as possible and dream big.”

      Yes. We. Should.

      8. Yup, I built a nuclear fusion reactor (3:26)

      Even the title shows the confidence that 17-year-old Nuclear Physicist Taylor Wilson has. As he says…and proves,

      “Kids can really change the world.”

      I love his passion and confidence. He started out with a dream and ended up meeting the President.

      9. Underwater Astonishments (5:18)

      While this may not have any explicit life lessons, it’s incredibly interesting and fun to watch with kids. Approved by my 7-year-old, who said, “It was very interesting and I liked the pictures. I didn’t know an octopus could do that.”

      The underlying lesson? For me, it shows how everything is incredible. When we look for beauty and awe, we will find it.

      I also think it’s fascinating as Geologist David Gallow shares:

      “And in a place where we thought no life at all, we find more life…there’s still 97 percent, and either that 97 percent is empty or just full of surprises.”

      This teaches kids that there is so much in life and in their world to discover.

      10. What Makes A Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness (12:40)

      I’d say this talk is better for older kids. Robert Waldinger shares what makes a good life, from the longest study in history on happiness.

      If your kids are having a hard time getting into it, head to 5:51 for the highlights:

      “So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives? Well, the lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

      I love the focus on the importance of relationships and friendships.

      11. The Happy Secret To Better Work (12:14)

      Positive Psychologist Shawn Achor is funny, fast and witty. He begins his talk with an incredibly funny story about his sister and him when they were little.

      He shares that:

      “90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality.”

      If you want to get to the essence, head to 9:09 for his suggestions.

      This is another one that’s probably best for older kids and teenagers.

      12. Weird, or Just Different? (2:35)

      The shortest talk on this list, Derek Sivers talks about the power of perspective. It teaches kids that we all have a different lens through which we see the world and we need to be aware of our assumptions and bias.

      One of Derek’s thoughts:

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      There’s a saying that whatever true thing you can say about India, the opposite is also true. So, let’s never forget…that whatever brilliant ideas you have or hear, that the opposite may also be true.

      My daughter’s thoughts: “It shows we can both be right.” YES.

      13. Living Beyond Limits (9:44)

      When I said earlier that I would let my 7-year-old watch all of these talks, this might be my one exception. Amy Purdy’s message is incredible but with an illness and near-death experience, it could be scary for little ones.

      When she was just 19, Amy got bacterial meningitis and after a long fight for her life, she survived, but lost both legs below the knee. Now, a pro-snowboarder, she shows how “It’s believing in those dreams and facing our fears head-on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits.”

      Her message:

      “If your life was a book, and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?”

      As my daughter and her friend watched this video, they loved Amy, were completely engaged by her story and got this lesson – “Don’t give up on our dreams just because something bad happens.”

      14. 8 Secrets of Success (3:26)

      In this short video, Analyst Richard St. John condenses a decade of research on success into three minutes. It’s a two-hour presentation he gives to high school students on what’s needed to be successful. Quick. Fast. Interesting with lots of great life lessons including serving, persisting, hard work and passion.

      15. Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. (9:47)

      The title says it all.

      Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg’s beautiful cinematic time lapse imagery is paired with words of perspective from a little girl and an elderly man about what makes life so beautiful.

      It may feel slow for some kids, but contains a compelling and valuable message.

      I loved when the little girl shared her perspective about why we should be exploring nature and not watching TV and when the elderly gentlemen shared these thoughts:

      “You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”

      Kids might also find it interesting why we say OMG. I did.

      16. Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling (12:26)

      This is a great talk, especially for high school students who are trying to figure out what to do with their life! In my coaching practice, this question still evokes a sense of stress, whether someone is going into high school, graduating from college, or in a mid-life career change.

      Emilie’s powerful message:

      If you have multiple dreams, goals and interests, “There’s nothing wrong with you. What you are, is a multipotentialite. Someone with many interests and creative pursuits.”

      The statistics back up this concept. Studies have shown that only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major; the average person changes jobs 10-15 times during his or her career; and people change careers anywhere from 3-7 times over the course of their lifetime.

      Emilie then goes on to share the skills and benefits of being a multipotentialite, complete with examples of successful individuals who have created a life that works for them.

      My absolute favorite message from this talk is one that I’m deeply aligned with in my coaching practice:

      “We should all be designing lives and careers that are aligned with how we’re wired… Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life.”

      Amen.

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      17. How I Harnessed the Wind (5:52)

      Incredible and inspiring. At the age of 14, William Kamkwamba, with very little education or resources, motivated by poverty and famine, created a windmill to power his family’s home. As he looked at his life, he felt that what he was living was a fate he couldn’t accept. So rather than live the life he was “destined” to live, he decided to change it.

      Not only is this story about courage, drive and innovation, it will also help kids gain perspective about what others in the world are facing on a daily basis.

      He closes with these words of wisdom:

      “I would like to say something to all the people out there like me, to the Africans, and the poor who are struggling with your dreams. God bless. Maybe one day you will watch this on the Internet. I say to you, trust yourself and believe. Whatever happens, don’t give up.”

      BONUS: I Think We All Need a Pep Talk (3:28)

      Ok, so it’s not officially a TED Talk, but it was on their site[1] and I just had to include it! Many of you have probably seen this Soul Pancake video before. I don’t need to say much. Just watch it.

      Here are three of my favorite lines from 9-year old “Kid President”:

      “We’re all on the same team.”
      “We were made to be awesome.”
      “Give the world a reason to dance, so get to it.”

      Now What? Watch these with your kids!

      Now that you’ve read through these options, it’s time to pick a few and watch them with your kid(s). I recommend you choose three that are relevant to your family, a situation your kid is in, a life lesson you feel is important for them to learn, or something that you’re just excited to share.

      That’s the easy part. Now you have to get them to watch it!

      Here are a few recommendations for sharing these with your kids:

      1. Share your thoughts and a few W’s

      Who is this talk about, why you think it’s important for them to watch and what you think they’ll find interesting. Get them hooked before they watch it. Giving them high-level context will not only get them interested, but get their minds primed for learning.

      2. After you watch the video, have a discussion.

      Not sure what to ask? Here are some ideas:

      • What did you think of the video?
      • What did you enjoy?
      • What do you think motivated this speaker to speak on this topic?
      • What did you learn?
      • What do you think you’ll do differently as a result of watching this?

      3. Ask them to stick with it and be patient.

      When I started testing these with my daughters, I could see in the first minute they were wondering if they really wanted to do this. I asked them to be patient, keep an open mind and stick with it. Once they got through the initial, “Ugh, Mom!”…. they enjoyed watching.

      Lucky for you, the ones they couldn’t get through didn’t make this cut! Watch one (maybe two) at time. Stick with the age minus one rule.

      I loved researching these talks, watching them with my kids and their friends, and hearing their thoughts and reactions. I hope they provide a great discussion for you and your family, some inspiration for your kids and something that moves, motivates and challenges you both.

      I’d love to hear which of these resonated with you and your kids – and if you have other favorite TED talks you think would be great for kids, please let me know!

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

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