Kids who seemed confident throughout childhood may struggle to maintain self-assurance during the teen years. For many, adolescence is filled with self-doubt, a questionable body image, and insecurity. #TeenSelfEsteem #TeenConfidence #HoffstetterCounseling
The good news is, you can take steps to help your teen build self-esteem. Here are eight strategies that will instill life-long confidence in your teen.
Teens who struggle to master a skill may conclude they're complete failures. A teen who has difficulty with math may decide they're not smart. Or a teen who fails to make the soccer team may decide they'll never be good at sports.
Show your teen that it’s possible to accept flaws while also striving to become better. There is a healthy balance between self-acceptance and self-improvement. Rather than label themselves as “stupid,” help your teen see that while they're struggling academically, they can still strive to become better.1
Praise Effort Instead of Outcome
Rather than praise your teen for getting a good grade on an exam, praise them for all the studying they did. Instead of saying, "Great job scoring those five points in the game," say, "All that practicing you've been doing has been paying off." Show them that it's important to try hard and it's OK if they don't succeed all the time.2
Your teen can control their effort but they can't always control the outcome. It's important to acknowledge their energy and effort so they don't think they are only worthy of praise when they succeed.
Teach Assertiveness Skills
Teens need to know how to speak up for themselves in an appropriate manner.3 An assertive teen will be able to ask for help when they don’t understand school work, rather than allow themselves to fall behind.
A teen who can speak up is also less likely to be treated poorly by peers. They'll speak up for themselves when they don't like how they're being treated, and they'll be able to ask for what they need in a direct manner.
Encourage Your Teen to Explore New Opportunities
Trying new activities, discovering hidden talents, and challenging themselves can help grow teens’ confidence. But many teens are afraid of failure and don’t want to embarrass themselves.
Encourage your teen to join a new club, play a musical instrument, engage in volunteer work, or find a part-time job. Mastering new skills will help them feel better about themselves.
Your teen will learn the most about confidence based on what you do—not what you say. If you’re guilty of making critical statements about your body or your abilities, you’ll teach your child to do the same.
Role model how to face new situations with courage and confidence and demonstrate the importance of loving yourself.4 Talk to your teen about times when you've been brave or things you've done in your life to help build your confidence.
Build Self-Worth on a Healthy Foundation
If your teen only feels good when they get a certain amount of likes on social media or when fit into a certain size pair of pants, they'll struggle to maintain confidence when situations don't suit their needs. Basing self-worth on superficial things, external circumstances, or other people leads to a lack of confidence in the long run.
Help your teen build a healthy and stable foundation for self-worth. Emphasize your values and teach that true self-worth is about living according to those values. For example, help them see that it’s more important to be kind and caring rather than thin or attractive.5
Balance Freedom with Guidance
Micromanaging your teen’s choices will only reinforce that they can’t be trusted to make good decisions independently. It’s important to balance just the right amount of freedom with plenty of guidance.
Provide your teen with plenty of opportunities to practice the skills you’ve taught. Let them experience natural consequences and they'll learn from their own mistakes. Over time, they'll develop increased confidence in their ability to make healthy choices.
Help Develop Positive Self-Talk
Your teen’s inner monologue will play a major role in how they feels about themselves. If they are always thinking things like, “I’m so ugly,” or “No one likes me,” they're bound to feel bad about themselves.
Teach your teen to develop healthy self-talk. Point out how many thoughts aren’t true and help them see how being overly harsh can be detrimental. Teach her to reframe irrational thoughts like, “I’m going to fail because I’m stupid,” with something more realistic like, “I can pass math class if I work hard.”
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