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How to Build Confidence in Your Teen



How to Build Confidence in Your Teen 

G. Runo


The teen years are difficult for many people. This is a time when you are struggling with acceptance from the world as well from yourself. It is also a time when a young person has to deal with peer pressure, a changing body, increased independence and pressure from schoolwork or sports. A self confident teen makes safe and informed decisions. He is also quick to recognize a dangerous situation and walk away or identify an unsafe situation before he walks into it. If your child is self confident, he is able to bounce back from failures and disappointments. For example if he fails to make a grade he worked hard to attain, he is able to recover from the disappointment and look at what he did wrong so that he can do better next time. You can help your teen build his confidence by taking these steps.


Encourage Their Talent


Many parents already have a picture of what they would want their children to be when they grow up. These expectations may be based on family trends where all male members of the family grow up to be engineers. Then here comes your son who is only interested in music. He is good at it too. You may be disappointed but remember that it is his dream and it is he who has to wake up every day to go to a job he hates. Support him even if you do not agree with him. When he knows that his parent is there for him and believes in him, this does wonders for his self esteem.


Looks Are Not Everything

Looks are one of the most important things for most teenagers, especially girls. You need to let your teen know that even if she does not look like the models on her favorite magazine, she is still beautiful in her own way. Let her know that beauty comes mostly from taking good care of herself. It is also important for your teen to know that beauty that comes from inside is as important or even more important that than outward beauty. Character and a desire for self-improvement are crucial for inner beauty.

If your teen has issues such as being overweight, help her get a better self image by going to the gym or exercising outdoors together. The most important thing is taking care of herself on the inside as well as the outside to be a whole being.


Assign More Responsibilities


Teens want to be treated like adults. You can show your teen you think he is capable of taking care of himself by assigning him more responsibility. Let him be in charge of things he previously could not be allowed to touch such as tools in your garage. If you are planning on making a major change in your life that is likely to affect the whole family, ask your teen what he thinks about the situation. Sometimes he might shock you with the amount of insight he has developed over the years. I remember a time we went to visit my brother in his boarding school. My brother is into business and has been that way since his early teens. My father asked him how he would advise his old man to spend a significant amount of extra money he had earned. I was much younger than my brother but I remember him giving my dad a very elaborate plan using terms that my ten year old self could not understand. My father is living comfortably in his retirement courtesy of his son’s well researched idea.

Showing your teen you value his opinion boosts his confidence in amazing ways. I expect my brother felt he could even take over teaching his business education class after my dad adopted his plan.


Keep Communication Lines Open

Teens like to believe that they have it together, until they get in a mess and realize they still have some growing up to do before they can be fully independent. Always let your teen know that he can come to you when he is having problems. You can do this by constantly telling him so. Don’t wait until he has issues to tell him you are open to help him. Let him know beforehand so that when the time comes, he will know who to talk to. Knowing he has a parent whose shoulder he can always lean on gives him confidence to take on new challenges.


Praise Often

Praise your kids

Praise your child when he achieves his goals. Praise him too when he makes an effort to attain his goal but does not attain it. For instance if he has been trying to get a volunteer position without success, praise him for making the effort and tell him with time his efforts will pay off.


Create Opportunities

When you discover that your child is talented in a certain area, create opportunities to succeed. If he is talented in music, pay for singing lessons. If he is talented in a sport, pay a coach to train him if you are not in a position to do so yourself. When your child succeeds, he gains self confidence. He is therefore able to keep winning in life because he believes in himself.


Criticize Constructively

When used appropriately, criticism can push your child in the right direction. Only criticize your teen in a way that can help him become a better person. Remember that the brains of teens are highly impressionable, so whatever you say to him will stick with him for life. You can say, “George you are a good soccer player, but you would be an even greater one if you passed the ball to other players more often.” Saying things like, ‘You failed that math lesson because instead of studying you prefer to fool around with your friends,’ can have the opposite effect. Your teen might decide to rebel even more to prove a point. In addition, avoid criticizing your teen when you are angry because you are likely to say negative and hurtful things. Never, ever criticize your teen in the presence of others, especially his peers. Doing so hurts his feelings and embarrasses him, lowering his confidence.


Do Things Together

Women running outdoor

Engage in some activities with your teen, especially activities that challenge you. Take him to the office once in a while so that he can observe you working on your projects. Take him to your tennis games so that he can see how you handle your opponents. You need to model confidence in your activities so that your teen can follow suit. Just like when they were younger, teens always do what you do and not what you say. Doing things together also gives you an opportunity to tell your teens what you expect. For example if you are watching a show with your teen daughter, you can point out a dress code you would not want her to adopt and explain why you take that stand.



About the Author

G. Runo is an educator, a writer, a mother of two young children and a guardian of five teenagers. She has been a teacher and a curriculum developer for four years. She’s a passionate storyteller who enjoys sharing her parenting and education wisdom with other parents. Follow her on Twitter @grarun20.




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