When teens have confidence they believe that they have the ability to succeed and perform well academically, socially, and in those areas of life important to them. What can you do as a parent to instill confidence in your teen?
Start by having a conversation with your teen about being a leader of his or her life and not a follower. Teens are bombarded by influences from friends, the media and social networks and having a conversation can go a long way toward helping keep their self-esteem intact. One parent was concerned about her daughter’s development and confidence and asked a child psychologist the following questions.
Here is what ensued:
Q. I have a 14-year-old daughter, and I want her to BE 14. Why is the whole world trying to make girls this age act older?
A. Girls are confronted with so many influences – it’s really our culture. If you could take culture out of the mix here, girls might be a truer representation of a typical 14-year-old. Our culture is moving very fast and marketing and sales certainly fuels a lot of direction towards young girls. Young girls are big consumers. So what parents have to do is empower their daughters with the smarts and with the leadership skills to navigate, understand, and look critically at the media and different companies that are trying to sell to them. When I say leadership skills, I’m talking about helping them choose, clarify and cherish their value system.
Q. Why is it important to build those leaderships skills?
A. We cannot take them out of the culture that they are developing in so parents need to give them the tools, the practical everyday tools, and the skills to look critically at the media and say, “is this right for me here?” “What are they really trying to sell me?” Our daughters need to say the media or anybody else does not need to tell me how “I need to be.”
Q. How do we help parents get a handle on some of the issues their teenagers are facing?
A. Help your teenager develop leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving skills around real life situations so that they can make the decisions that are right for them within the context of their families and their communities. Remember confidence is about what you believe you can do. As your child becomes more competent in leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving, he or she will gain greater confidence.