Life in the UK

Building children’s self-confidence by allowing them to explore a variety of activities until they discover their true passion.

Hi! It’s konkaz (@konkazuk) here.

In this article, I have written about what has been helpful for children growing up as ethnic minorities overseas in the process of establishing “confidence.”

However, I have to declare that majority of what I have written here has been carried out by nobody else but my wife who is tirelessly fighting for our children every day.

I cannot help but admire the “power of mom”!

Anyway, let’s see.


The relationship between parents and its impact on the relationship between children

image by Nathan Dumlao

As a few years go by since children started attending primary school, it is about this time that their characters begin to develop, along with the emergence of individual differences in physical abilities.

Power dynamics start to form among the children themselves, and as a parent living abroad as an immigrant, concerns about whether my own child is being bullied or not never go away.

As far as I know, there are a few children whose mother has got a Japanese nationality in my kids’ school, however my kids are only ones whose parents are both Japanese.

Naturally, our children have a very Japanese appearance.

image by Vinson Tan

Schools in London are often multinational with kids coming from all sorts of ethnic background, so there is no sense of isolation.

I can say that my kids are well-integrated into their school, however, due to being Japanese, our children tend to have a petite physique.

Even though my son’s height is above average-similar-aged Japanese kids’, his European or African pals are taller by a head (and some are much more well-built), so this trifle sometimes worries me..

When your son have had a small fight with his pal, even though it was nothing special between the kids and they can get on well with each other following day like nothing had happened, you tend to imagine the situation with some sort of negative way, and start doubting his pal or pal’s parents.

However, this protective attitude can arise when you haven’t familiarized yourself with other children’s parents, leading to premature assumptions and as a result you might end up creating an unnecessary gaps in the relationship.

And to make matters worse, this might cause a negative effect on your kids’ relationship with his pals.

Thus, actively networking with your child’s classmate’s parents is a very important matter.

Especially, participating in a little chat (mostly a group of mums) which is often taken place at the time of dropping off or picking up your children from school is a crucial point.

It is no exaggeration to say that whether doing this or not will determine your kids’ future.

By associating with other parents, you will get opportunities for your kids to join in some activities in which some of your kids’ classmates are also participating, or simply let your kids play with their’s over the weekends, or inviting them to your kids’ birthday parties / getting invited by their’s, etc. And in there, your kids will be able to form further bonding with their classmates.

In my children’s school, there are no class changes until graduation, so they spend seven years with the same classmates, including Reception (the first year). Therefore, the relationship among parents becomes particularly important.

Furthermore, the bonding between parents will grow as year goes by, therefore if you are deferring this opportunity with an excuse of being busy, you and your kids will have been missing out a lot…

The fact that my kids are getting on well with their school mates despite we live slightly further away from everyone else is, I have to say, all thanks to my wife’s frequent efforts to keep in touch with their parents.

Awareness of being Japanese

As parents who were born and grew up in Japan before moving to London, we can only imagine how our kids are getting on with their everyday life as Japanese, however we cannot actually experience how it is like…

They, of course, know that they are Japanese, but they were born here and are growing up in the British culture, so I presume that there will be time for them to contemplate their roots at some point in their future…

Our kids have both parents with Japanese nationality, thus their case will be different from the other kids with one of their parents with Japanese nationality.

So, what I thought after having watched the summary of “I am yellow, white, and a little bit blue” by Mikako Brady with Atsuhiko Nakata’s YouTube channel,

even if my kids are growing up in the British culture, they are pure Japanese at the end of the day, so it will be the best to encourage them positively to learn Japanese culture and language, so that it could provide them an great advantage in their future.

As for myself, due to the fact that I have spent the majority of my life immersed in music genres such as rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and blues (I tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to things I love…), my knowledge of Japanese culture is extremely poor. Therefore, since moving to London, I have disappointed many people whenever they ask me about Japan.

And what I have found out after living in the UK for many years is that, there are so many people who love Japanese culture in this country, and the fact that they strongly expect you to be genuine Japanese.

image by Fabrizio Chiagano

Hence if your children are showing interest in learning about Japan, we parent should make an good effort to create an environment where they can casually be in touch with Japanese culture.

Our kids’ regular activities are mainly the followings…

1. “Bunko”(A Japanese community-based library group) where Japanese mothers gather to read Japanese picture books together with their children and engage in Japanese outdoor games.

2. “Bokokugo Kyoushitsu”(Japanese language school) My daughter unintentionally used to mispronounce it as “Bokoboko” which means “beaten up” or “with lots of dents” without knowing the meaning. No ill intentions.)

3. Sunday morning conversation with their grandparents in Japan.

Unfortunately, 2. is currently on hold due to the impact of the pandemic, therefore it has been replaced with my task of writing Chinese characters.

The most important thing is, I think, to create an ambience where kids can naturally feel that they are well-connected to Japan.

Watching Japanese YouTube channel might be effective, but having regular conversation with their grandparents who actually live in Japan, will make kids recognize that they are part of them, as well as make them feel easy.

And this will make them feel like learning more about their roots, I strongly believe.

Getting involved in the local community

image by Malik Skydsgaard

I lately recognized that my son Takauji (10 years old) has achieved fast-growing with his mentality over a year or two.

Part of the reason for it might be just because of his age, however it is surprising and also nice to see my own kid behaving confidently, considering the fact that his voice had always been the lowest when it comes to class assembly in his school.

But, there was a catalyst for him to start showing signs of change.

One day my wife told me that a group of school kids and their dads were playing football in the park every Sunday, and my son’s classmate was also participating.

In order to make ends meet, I did not want to drop my Sunday shift at work, so I did not take it seriously in the beginning.

However I was reading a book of child rearing then, and it said that…

” … between the age of 8 and12 is a crucial period for boys to build up their confidence, and it really depends on how they have a good relationship with their fathers.”

…I was like Oops!!!

I decided to have Sundays off….

I almost continued down the wrong path!

The Sunday football game is administrated by a local super dad Mr J.H. and because kids and dads are playing all together, there is always great vibes and healthy relationships among kids and dads.

I am not bad at playing football, so eventually kids started to recognize me like “Who’s dad is that?” and I would hear, “He is Taka’s dad!”

North Millfields Recreation Ground

As a result, my shy son gradually started fitting in with the other kids (and with football itself which he had rarely played at the time he joined) and eventually he began showing off a shower of sliding tackles to his opponent, since I let him watch a cult Japanese football cartoon called “Captain Tsubasa“!!! (Nankatsu vs Meiwa) w

He would cry from time to time when ball struck his face or when he got his foot kicked accidentally by his opponent (just like other young kids would) but he gradually overcame all these things and was getting stronger and stronger every week.

And new relationships are also formed with children outside of his classmates, and even I have made connections with a group of dads that I didn’t know before. It’s nothing but positive things.

And then, the pandemic hit in early 2020.

image by Victor Forgacs

With the government’s announcement of 1st UK lockdown, it became taboo for the public to meet up with more than 6 people at one time, so the Sunday football was temporarily closed, sadly…

Kids needed to release their energy from time to time anyway, so I and my wife thought of seeking something that kids could work on and were able to enjoy individually.

We ended up purchasing skateboards for our kids, and one for I and my wife to share.

I believe boys generally love engaging in thrilling activities like this and enjoy practicing various tricks and techniques.

While I, my wife, my daughter were dropping out (daughter switched skateboarding to roller skating), he kept going…

He would glance at older kids next to him showing amazing skills and make an attempt to copy them.

And while all this was happening, a good news for was delivered from one of my wife’s mum friends for him.

According to her, there was this obsolete skateboarding space, not far away from where we live, getting repaired by local skateboarder’s community, and they lately had started giving small group lessons there. How about joining them?”

My boy was chuffed and totally up for it.

Her son had started skateboarding a while ago, so he was very good at it. Seeing him skating very smoothly, my son got absolutely motivated and was desperate to catch up with him.

Hackney Concrete Bumps Skatepark

Eventually, the government announced the closing of 1st lockdown, and the schools were reopened.

Here, as not to stop his skateboarding activity before his passion starts to cease, my wife set up skateboarding group with WhatsApp and contacted his classmates’ mums for Sunday-morning-skateboarding-get-together.

Surprisingly, despite the fact that my son had only started skateboarding recently, some of his skateboarding skills were outstanding among the others (thanks to the community people and his friends who taught him during the 1st lockdown).

And this drew his classmates’ attention and he seemed to have gained some kind of confidence.

His mates treated him differently here.

After the 1st lockdown, he seemed to have been acting more assertive way, and looked happier both with school life and at home.

He also looked enjoying more with after-school activities.

I knew that finding a particular field where you can do slightly better than others or simply finding something in which you can be really absorbed would build confidence in your childhood, but it is not easy for kids or even for parents to figure out what it is for themselves in the beginning.

Therefore, in conclusion, I think it is crucially important that we parents make efforts to create some opportunities for kids to try out to see what could suit them well. And, participating positively in local community’s activities can be a great help for kids to find it out…

Finally, I will list some books that have been helpful as a reference.

And the English-written one I’ve found it very beneficial is this one. 👇

Anyway, this is it!

Thank you very much for reading my blog post till the end!!!


*You can read this blog post in Japanese from the link below.

👉 子供が自信をつけるためには、親が子供にいろんな事を試すことができる環境をつくる。