It’s tough being a teen. Even kids who seemed confident during childhood may struggle with physical changes, confusing emotions, and social pressures throughout adolescence.
Teenagers might feel self-conscious about their appearance, question their abilities, and stress about decisions for their future. This period of intense physical and emotional growth can be overwhelming for both teens and their parents/caregivers.
With the right support, you can help your self-conscious teenager navigate these formative years and grow into a confident young adult.
One of the best ways to help build a teenager’s confidence is to show them what confidence looks like. Face new challenges with courage, avoid making critical statements about yourself and others, and show resilience when you make mistakes.
Demonstrate the importance of being happy within yourself instead of relying on other people or external circumstances for happiness. This is an important lesson for teens to learn, as they can be especially dependent on their peers (and romantic relationships) during this time.
Promote Positive Self-Talk
A toxic inner monologue can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves – whatever our age.
If your teen is constantly thinking and speaking negatively about themselves, it can really eat away at their self-esteem. Self-conscious teenagers tend to put themselves down, catastrophise (or jump to worst-case scenario), and focus on the negatives.
Encourage positive self-talk and teach your teen how to reframe irrational, unhelpful thoughts. For example, try replacing “She didn’t text me back – she must not like me anymore” with “She must be too busy to text right now, and that has nothing to do with me as a person”. Instead of “I’m going to fail this test because I’m not smart enough”, try “I can pass this test if I study hard and try my best”.
Encourage Them to try New Things
Learning new things and engaging in diverse activities and interests can help teens gain a sense of purpose and build their confidence.
Encourage your teenager to explore new opportunities and develop new skills by picking up a hobby or sport. This will also give them a chance to expand their social circle and meet likeminded people outside of their friendship group at school.
Commend Effort Over Outcome
We can control our effort, but we can’t always control the outcome. Teach your teen about the importance of trying their best rather than putting all the focus on whether they succeed or not.
For example, instead of praising them for doing well on a test, tell them how proud you are of them for studying and preparing for the test. Emphasise their hard work and perseverance so they know it’s OK if things don’t go the way they hoped, as long as they did their best.
Listen Without Lecturing
While it may be tempting to jump in and offer advice or fix your teenager’s problems, this can actually hinder their ability to find their own solutions and grow through experience.
Sometimes we just need a good vent, and opening up about our problems isn’t always an invitation for advice. Let them know they can come to you to work through their issues and options without getting a lecture.
Practise Social Skills
If your teen gets nervous in social situations or has trouble asserting themselves, try a little role play. Create a safe space for them to practise approaching someone and starting a conversation, focusing on the basics such as posture, body language, and showing an interest in others.
Give them a chance to rehearse difficult conversations with peers or teachers to help them build their confidence for the real thing.
Our friendly and professional counsellors have experience with a wide range of issues such as self-esteem, body image, bullying, anxiety and depression. You can learn more about our counselling services and make an appointment here.