From Self-Conscious to Self-Confidence – Tips for Parents & Their Teens
As a parent, it can be painful to watch your teen struggle with self-consciousness and low confidence.
Whether they are a male or female teen, their self-confidence is important. While the emphasis is often on girls’ self-esteem, boys need to be confident, too and often struggle just as much (although perhaps in different areas).
Is there anything you can do to help build your teen’s self-confidence? Here are some tips.
Learning to Fail
We want our children to be safe, physically and emotionally. But sources say that this can become too much of a good thing. If you feel the need to protect your child from any difficulty – not allowing him to date, for instance, to protect him from a broken heart; or not letting her try out for a sports team because you don’t think she’ll be the best – then you may end up undermining your teen’s self-confidence. Learning how to try and fail and try again is one of life’s most important lessons.
You may think that failure will destroy your teen – after all, if you allow him or her to fail, won’t that destroy his or her self-confidence? Surprisingly, failure can be an opportunity – it’s a chance to self-assess and ultimately build self-confidence.
Equip Your Teen
Letting your teen flounder on her own without providing guidance can compromise her sense of confidence. She needs some practical tools so that she feels confidently equipped to tackle problems and issues in her life. Have heart-to-heart talks about dating, schoolwork, and parental expectations, and arm your teen with practical advice on what to do in these areas of life. Sometimes, teens just need help formulating a plan of action to feel confident.
Don’t Always Blame Others
We all know that parent – the mom who yells at the coach when her child strikes out, or the dad who yells at the teacher when his child is reprimanded. But is that parent you? Think carefully – do you tend to take up your teen’s cause no matter what and assume the world is against her? Sometimes, in your eagerness to be a friend to your teen, you may forget that sometimes your teen is in the wrong and needs your correction or at least your admission that she is on the wrong track.
Most teens are not aware that the images they see on television and in magazines are largely staged. Celebrities who seem perfectly beautiful aren’t necessarily so – they have the advantage of being able to spend most of every day working on their appearance, and they also have the advantage of a camera lens between themselves and the rest of the world.
Introduce your teen to the deceptive nature of magazine photography and movie cameras, and point out that keeping up appearances can be so exhausting that few celebrities have normal, healthy lives and relationships.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Is there anything they can do to help build their self-confidence? Here are some tips for them. (Mom or Dad, please share with your teen, this is written for them)
Recognize Your Talents
It’s easy to blow off your abilities, especially if your peers make fun of them (and they probably do so out of jealousy). But get serious with yourself and make a list of things you love to do and are good at. Keep this list just for yourself and look at it often. Remember it when you flunk a test or say something you wish you hadn’t. Those talents of yours won’t go away, and you can rely on them for the rest of your life…as long as you cultivate them.
Cultivate Your Abilities
You may have so many interests and abilities that it’s impossible to develop them all; or, you may have one thing you really love to do. Regardless, look into developing and using some of your abilities in applications beyond school. Not only will it open more opportunities to look for activities around your community, but it might also remove you from peer judgment.
Be Like a Duck
Have you ever heard the expression that you should be like a duck and let negative words and attitudes roll off your back? It’s a good thing to cultivate – if you take every criticism or off-hand comment to heart, you might find yourself paralyzed with fear of other’s judgment. Remember, school and teenage-hood are not forever. You will get out of this stage and you shouldn’t let the criticisms of others sabotage your future, which lasts a lot longer than middle and high school!
Resist the Urge to Compare
When you look at your friends, classmates, or pictures of celebrities, try to resist the temptation to scrutinize them as the gold standard to which you should aspire. Someone will always have better legs, superior athletic prowess, nicer hair, etc. than you. But those people don’t set the standard for you; you are who you are, and they can’t measure up to that, either!
Listen to the Inner Voice – Then Tell It to Shut Up
Stop and listen to your inner thoughts for a while. What do you automatically think of yourself in response to certain situations? What do you say to yourself when you wake up, interact with friends, or go to class? If you are tearing yourself down with negative thoughts, you need to stop. Address the negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk instead.
“Don’t you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are.” – Jo Blackwell-Preston
If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anybody else to? It All Starts With You!
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