Teenagers face a lot of pressure to find themselves, figure out their lives and successfully make the transition to adulthood. As much as you want to support your teenager through this time, a lot of this growth is up to them. However, you can help your teenager learn to be confident.
Confidence is the belief that you can achieve what you set out to do. It’s closely connected to self-esteem, the belief that you’re worthy of love, respect and compassion. When paired with humility, confidence equips teenagers to maturely handle any situation they may face. Here are seven ways you can help your teen develop a strong sense of confidence.
Most people are afraid of failure. They’re worried that not doing something well is a reflection on their personal worth. If they can’t do X, maybe they can’t do anything at all. As a parent, you can teach your kids that failure is actually positive – it’s a necessary part of growth.
In fact, the ability to fail and try again is highly admirable. It takes courage and develops the confidence to try new things. All learning involves failure. The willingness to take on new challenges must include a willingness to fail. Learning to grow from failure will increase your teen’s confidence.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
Every person holds a private conversation with themselves inside their own head. You evaluate your choices, wince after every awkward conversation and let your thoughts loose after someone is rude to you. It’s easy to develop negative thought patterns, be too hard on yourself and hold grudges in secret.
You can rewire your mind to be healthier one thought at a time. Teach your teenager to think about what they’re thinking. Have them challenge their thoughts and choose which ones to listen to. In most cases, you are your own worst critic. Developing a healthier mind space is an important step for increasing your teen’s confidence.
Imagine Being Confident
Some physical postures and movements communicate confidence more than others. For example, making eye contact during a conversation lets people know you’re comfortable with yourself. Even if your teen doesn’t feel confident, they can practice acting like the confident person they want to become.
Every possibility in your child’s life starts with their imagination. It’s not fake to practice being the confident person you want to become. Other ways to practice confidence include introducing yourself first, smiling and standing tall with your shoulders relaxed back. Looking at your phone in public will not build confidence.
Know You’re Loved
As a parent, you can also show your teen that they are unconditionally loved. They don’t have to meet a goal or pass a test to be worthy of affection and have inherent value. Of course, not everything they do is going to be awesome. However, you can teach your teen that nothing they do will ever change how much you love them.
Unconditional love creates the safety teens need to live a full life that’s free of anxiety. Instead of acting out or painstakingly following rules in order to be accepted, your teenager can make choices with the knowledge that they already are accepted. Talk to your teen about their value and make sure they know they’re unconditionally loved.
Encourage Other People
One of the best ways to grow in self-confidence is to support other people. This redirects your teen’s anxiety about themselves to concern for how others are doing. Encouraging other people feels good and it can help your teenager discover who they want to become.
Model this kind of encouragement in your friendships. Check on people often, take the time to listen to them and be available when they need help. Your teenager can model this behavior with their friends, siblings, teachers and coaches at school. While they build confidence through kindness, they’ll also attract like-minded friends.
Assess Your Emotions
Teenagers experience a lot of hormonal changes. In addition to physical changes, your teen will experience new kinds and levels of emotion. These feelings can be exhausting, confusing and even oppressive at times. You can strengthen your teen’s confidence by helping them navigate their emotions.
All emotions are valid – they are something real that you are feeling. However, not every emotion should be allowed to run your life. For example, your teenager may feel jealous if their friend has a date and they don’t. While jealousy is a valid feeling, it’s not one your child should act on. Instead, they can feel their feelings and then choose to reframe their perspective.
Check Your Values
Confidence comes from knowing who you are and acting according to your values. People who lack confidence also lack boundaries. They let themselves be pressured into decisions that don’t align with their values and undermine their sense of integrity. Over time, this erodes their confidence even further.
Help your teenager identify their values and set boundaries for how they want to live. For example, they could resolve never to talk about someone behind their back because they value kindness. Choosing to stay true to good values will build your teen’s confidence over time.
Ready for the Future
Confidence is a learned way of thinking that can equip your teen for high school and beyond. When teenagers are confident, they are more likely to develop healthy relationships and have good mental health. You can foster confidence in your teens by redefining failure and showing them how to speak positively to themselves.
Your teenager will naturally be confident if they know they’re unconditionally loved. Encourage them to practice acting confident and being kind even when they feel shy. Give them tools to assess their emotions and help them choose values to live by. Investing in your child’s confidence now will benefit them for the rest of their lives.