Building self-confidence in your teenager can be a challenging endeavour. Teenage years are often the most awkward time in a person’s life. Bodies, attitudes and emotions are in a constant state of flux. But there are practical ways to improve teenage self-confidence that will help your child succeed as they move into adulthood.
Finding out how to boost self-confidence in a teenager is about more than learning to craft the odd compliment or two. It’s about leading by example, providing opportunities for them to voice opinions and encouraging assertiveness.
A teenager with great self-esteem, who knows their self-worth, becomes a confident adult eager to pursue their passions. Championing teen self-confidence early is important for your child’s future.
Teenage self-confidence advice, of course, should be considered in conjunction with the personality and identity of your child. You may need to try a few of these approaches to find the one that works best.
Engage in conversations about topics of interest
If your teen talks in two-word sentences and isn’t super keen for a casual chat, it might be time to reassess what you’re talking about. Instead of asking general questions like “how was your day?”, try sparking conversations based on their hobbies, interests or favourite subjects at school - anything they’re knowledgeable and passionate about. Whether it’s their favourite musician or the latest move they mastered on the soccer field, getting them talking about topics they consider themselves a bit of an expert on will naturally boost their confidence.
Teens can often feel unsure or indecisive about their actions or beliefs. Sometimes it can be much easier to allow others to make decisions for them or to simply adopt the choices of others.
Encouraging your teen to make informed decisions about things as simple as what type of petrol to put in their car, to what they want for dinner, can help gradually build a sense of trust in their independent decision-making skills. When they see that you trust their ability to make good choices, they’ll be more confident in making them.
Encouraging your child to make decisions will assist them to advocate for their choices with conviction. When they are confident in their decisions, others will be too, helping them to boost their overall self-esteem.
Listen when they voice their opinions
Some days, disagreements with your teenager seem inevitable. When you’re unable to persuade them to your point of view, becoming frustrated, angry or upset can be a natural reaction. While you may only want what’s best for your child, it’s important to show them that you have given their opinions due consideration.
As your teenager moves into adulthood, forming their own opinions and ideas is important. Encouraging independent thinking, and the ability to voice this, will help them adapt to life at university.
When you can feel an argument brewing, try to remain calm and hear out your teenager. Even if you don’t agree with them, showing that you respect the sharing of opinions will open up more adult conversations and help them to understand that their voice matters.
Endorsing independent thinking and opinion sharing is essential to boosting teen self-confidence.
Support team activities
When considering how to boost self-confidence in a teenager, one simple and practical measure to put in place is encouraging participation in team activities.
Think about your teen’s interests and assist them to scope out clubs, societies or teams at school or in the community. Whether it’s a sports team, debating team or online group gaming, working as a team is a critical skill that will assist your child at university and in the workplace. It will also help them to assert themselves in a group situation and cultivate a sense of belonging, which naturally enhances self-esteem.
Exemplify giving and receiving compliments
How parents display confidence can have a direct impact on teenage self-confidence. Even though you may have taught your child to be polite and give compliments, demonstrating how to receive them can be much more difficult.
It’s important for you to display that you are comfortable with receiving compliments. Try not to shy away from, or downplay, the compliments you receive from others. If you can show your teen that you know your self-worth, they will see this as natural behaviour and become more comfortable with receiving praise for their strengths too.
In your home, champion a complimentary culture with a focus on giving and receiving compliments with confidence and ease.
Praise effort, not outcome
If you’re trying to build confidence and self-esteem in a teenager, it’s important to remember to praise your child’s efforts rather than the outcomes of their actions. The key here is to show that you’re proud of them for giving something a go, showing commitment and challenging themselves, no matter the result.
While we can control the amount of effort we put into a task or activity, sometimes we’re unable to control the outcome. By showing your child they deserve praise for effort, even when they don't achieve the result they wished for, it’s helping them to become confident to make an attempt, even if failure is possible.
We’re all a little scared of failure, but providing and receiving praise for giving it a shot will help create a resilient and confident adult.
Demonstrate positive self-talk
When thinking about how to improve a teenage girl’s self-confidence, demonstrating positive self-talk is particularly important. Body shaming can be a huge problem for teenage girls, so being careful not to let your child hear you say things like “he’s so much smarter than me” or “I’ll never be as gorgeous as XYZ” is vital to setting a good example.
Try to steer your teenager away from comparing themselves to others, or allowing any negative inner monologues to overshadow their strengths. Encourage them to focus on the qualities, skills and attributes they like about themselves instead.
You don’t need to stand in front of a mirror and compliment yourself to engage in positive self-talk. It’s about focusing on the things you like about yourself and celebrating these. Engaging in positive self-talk could be as simple as going around the dinner table and having each family member acknowledge one thing they did well that day and why they’re proud of themselves for it.
Teenage self-confidence can be a tricky topic to navigate. Remember to lead by example and trial the above advice to help your teenager grow into an adult who is confident, assertive and knows their self-worth.