Wouldn’t you just love to see your teen beaming with confidence, accepting herself for who she is, not for what others want her to be, and feeling strong on the inside?
It’s so important that your teen cultivate self-confidence now.Following are 5 powerful strategies that can help build up your teens confidence from the inside out.
These strategies work for boys and girls, alike. I’m using the “her” pronoun to simplify.
The information is important whether you’re having concerns about your teen right now, for example maybe you’re noticing that she is struggling to make or keep friends.
And it is equally important if you have no immediate concerns, but you want to be sure you nurture in her that deep inner confidence that is so important to her healthy development and future life choices.
You’re in the right place if your teen fears there’s something wrong with her because she struggles with her peers, or if you feel helpless to change things when she comes home from school crying. It’s so painful to see your teen feel like she has to change who she is in order to fit in with her peers.
And the good news is this: Your teen doesn’t have to change!
Your teen just needs to learn who she is and to love and accept herself. And that is something I’ve helped many of my clients learn how to instill in their teenagers.
Things are going well for these families now, but it sure didn’t start out that way. These are teens who were once struggling with being ignored in school, some for all of their school years up to that point, not being invited to the birthday parties, being outright bullied in some cases, and even making life-altering decisions like decided they’d never have friends.
These are parents who were at their wits end when they came to me. They didn’t know what to do and they were talking about things like pulling their teen out of school, or taking some other big action, when something much simpler was possible.
Why is Confidence So Important?
One of the goals most parents share is to raise our children to be confident in themselves and their gifts.
Troubling media messages and social pressure from peers often have our teens questioning who they are and how they fit in. The frightening reality is that our kids start to feel this social pressure as early as pre-school and kindergarten!
When confidence and self-acceptance are not developed during childhood, the results can show up in the types of friends your teen hangs around, the career she chooses, the partner she ends up with, and even whether or not she engages in risky behaviors.
Often, teens who lack confidence and self-esteem settle for less than they desire and deserve.What can you do to cultivate a strong level of confidence and self-esteem in your teen so she can create a life worthy of her? Here are 5 simple strategies that can help you now.
Strategy #1: Allow your teen to make choices and decisions
Choices help kids feel a sense of power over their lives. Trust that your teen will make good choices. Trust you’ve done a great job as a parent.
Here’s how to get your teen involved in decision making and feeling a sense of control in her life. She may play a role in deciding what is being prepared for dinner, when she is going to do her homework, whether or not she wants to spend time with a friend or get lost in a book, and how she’d like to spend a special day with the family. What other places in your teen’s life can she have a voice?
It is this strong sense of who she is and what she likes that will help her stay true to herself and the things that are important to her. This will go a long way toward helping her own who she is and her feelings when navigating social situations with peers.
Where teens get into trouble is when they lose this connection to who they truly are. This can happen when she is not given the opportunity to make appropriate choices based on her needs and desires, or when her thoughts and feelings are not heard.
Strategy #2: Ask her how she feels
How often do you hear “Mom, did you see that goal I made in soccer?” Or “Do you think I did a good job on this art project?”
For most of us, our typical response is that we love it, you did a great job, and so on.
But this type of response is not that helpful.
In order to teach your teen how to know and value her feelings, it is important to ask her what she thinks, regardless of whether anyone else approves.
Next time she asks you if you like her art project, turn it around and ask “What do you think of it? Or “What is your favorite part?”
Having your teen reflect on how she feels about her own work before hearing the comments of others will teach her to have self-appreciation and to know and value herself, which will build up her self-esteem from the inside out.
Strategy #3: Create a daily gratitude practice
The way we experience life is all about our perspective. Teaching your teen to keep a positive perspective can do wonders for building resilience and confidence. One of my favorite ways of doing this is to play the gratitude game.
At dinner or bedtime, have each member of the family share the 3 things they most appreciated about their day. You could also have everyone add their gratitude for the day on a post-it and put it in a gratitude jar. Lastly, you could encourage your teen to start a gratitude journal.
What we look for and expect to see is what we tend to find. I often say “what you focus on grows.”
When you encourage your teen to look for what is good, she is more apt to encounter joyful experiences and develop resilience in the face of challenges.
In fact, the ability to be grateful in the midst of a troubling situation is one of the strategies that empowered, successful people employ in their lives.
When your daughter can find the gift or lesson in the challenge, she is more likely to move through the situation more easily, find positive solutions, and come out of it without losing herself to the situation.
Strategy #4: Create space for open communication
Creating a strong foundation of communication, respect, and trust at home is critical to your teen’s healthy emotional development.
The more you can instill positive communication with your teen when she is young, the more likely she will confide in you as she gets older.
Create a daily space where she can share her thoughts and feelings. Even a few minutes a day of being in each other’s presence can do wonders for your relationship. I create this space with my daughter at bedtime. Inevitably, if something is on her mind, it comes out then.
She knows I am always fully present with her during that time, and that gives her the trust and confidence to share her feelings with me.
Strategy #5: Help her focus on what is going right, rather than on what is going wrong
It’s easy to focus on a problem when it is in our midst. However, doing so is the surest way to guarantee it will continue, or even grow worse.
Next time your teen faces a challenge, help her shift from what is going wrong to what is going right.
You may need to get her started by offering a few ideas, like “you enjoy singing and being a part of the choir”, or “you really like your teacher”, and once you get her going, she will start to acknowledge more of the good in her life.
Not only will you shift her mood almost instantly, but you will be teaching her a powerful skill she can use in the midst of any challenge. And confidence grows when we have tools to help ourselves feel better.