Cultivating confidence and self-worth is a must for anybody – however, it is particularly important for teens. Life can feel very intense when you’re a teen, and rejection is common. They may have friend fallouts, unrequited loves, and other things going on that could shatter their confidence if they don’t have a solid base already built. If you want to make sure your teen can handle pretty much anything life throws at them, helping them to build their confidence can be a huge help. Below, we take a look at 9 ways you can help your teen to build confidence:
- Show Them Unconditional Love
Building confidence very much starts at home. When you show your child unconditional love, they begin building that foundation they need to confidently go out there and tackle the world. Unconditionally loving your child means loving them without strings attached. This requires non-defensive communication, open conversations, and allowing your child to be who they are. Most parents don’t realize that they actually only support their children when they are matching up to the version of the lives their parents believe they should be living. What happens when your teen wants to try out a new hobby that you aren’t a fan of, or wants to dress in a way you don’t like? Unconditional love doesn’t mean letting them get away with bad behavior, but there’s a difference between teaching them right from wrong and making them suffer because you don’t like that they are turning into their own person. If your child makes a mistake and you become passive-aggressive by not talking to them, for example, you teach them that you love them providing they don’t do anything wrong. This is not unconditional love.
- Adopt and Encourage A Growth Mindset
When you adopt and encourage a growth mindset, you can teach this to your teens. They will pick up on it just by watching you and how you conduct yourself and your life. A fixed mindset holds certain beliefs, such as:
- You’re either good at something, or you’re not.
- It’s too late to learn.
- Feedback is a personal attack.
Basically, if you or your teens believe that intelligence and talent are fixed traits, it’s a fixed mindset. The truth is, you can learn new things all the time, and you can certainly get better at anything you set your mind to. Living as if we are unable to change or improve will hold us all back. Make sure you demonstrate this growth mindset in yourself, and become more mindful of the language you use with your teens, too. This should start from an early age, but it’s never too late to start.
- Watch Your Negative Self Talk
Talking about yourself in a negative way doesn’t just impact your own self esteem – it impacts your kids, too. They will hear the way you talk about yourself, and they will internalize that language and begin thinking that way about themselves. Unfortunately, it really is that deep. Remember that whenever you feel compelled to criticize your appearance, or say you’re ‘stupid’, or anything of the sort.
- Normalize Failure
We can learn a lot from failure. Failure is a normal part of life, and a valuable learning opportunity. It shouldn’t be scary, and it shouldn’t be treated like the be-all and end-all. Winning can feel great, but the last thing you want is for your teens to become motivated by this external validation alone. External validation, such as praise and accolades, can only feel good for so long. Internal validation comes from the self, and shows maturity and confidence. Winning can still be a goal, but losing shouldn’t absolutely break your teens and send them spiraling. If self-worth is based on the ability to win, it won’t last for long.
- Encourage Them To Express Themselves
Encourage your kids to express themselves in various ways. Creative endeavors, such as writing, drama, and artwork can be a fantastic way to do that. Some teens may not enjoy creative endeavors, so ask them how they would like to explore self-expression. If you’re comfortable, maybe they could try some fun summer hair color ideas. How we dress can be just as much a form of self-expression as anything else. Make sure your teens know that they don’t have to hide behind ‘trends’, and are free to be who they are.
- Praise Their Efforts
Praising your kids for their achievements is important, of course. However, praising their efforts is far more valuable. This means you are praising the process rather than the result. Your teens will come to learn that trying hard and enjoying the process is just as important, if not more so, than what they create. Don’t forget to tell them they should be proud of themselves, too. It’s fine to say ‘we’re proud of you!’ but again, this can be a form of external validation that you don’t want them to rely on. Making sure they are comfortable feeling proud of themselves without anybody else’s input will help them well into adulthood.
- Encourage Self Awareness
When your teens know who they really are, they won’t feel under so much pressure to conform or do what other people want them to do. You want your teens to live their own dreams, not that of their friends. Encourage self awareness through things like journaling, meditation, and asking thought provoking questions. Make sure you are self aware, too!
- Support Their Interests and Passions
It’s never too late for your teens to discover a new talent, so support their interests and passions. Let them try different things, such as volunteer work, part-time jobs, hobbies, and classes. The earlier they get comfortable following their intuition regarding things they would like to try, the sooner they will realize that it’s ok to try different things. So many people get stuck doing things that no longer bring them joy because they think they have to!
- Validate Their Thoughts and Feelings
You may not always agree with your kids, but it’s important to validate their thoughts and feelings. Understanding their point of view, rather than telling them ‘stop being silly’, will show them that each thought and feeling is valid and has something to teach them.