Understanding Confidence

Posted on: October 9th, 2011 in Confidence - No Comments

Confidence as defined here is the perception that you can achieve desired goals through your actions.  A confident teen believes that he or she has the ability to succeed and perform well academically, socially, and in those areas of life important to him or her.  Teens learn confidence when the adults in their life instill and enhance their sense of self-determination, independent thinking, and self-esteem.  Whereas competence is about what you can do, confidence is about what you believe you can do.

Confidence is expressed differently at different ages.  Although some of the characteristics of confidence remain the same throughout the adolescent years, others evolve as teens mature and acquire new roles, responsibilities, and interests.  For adolescents ages 14-19, research has demonstrated that there is a need for perceived competence in the following areas in order for them to feel confident: scholastic ability, athletic ability, physical appearance, peer acceptance, global self-worth, morality (the perception that he or she understands the moral underpinnings of behavior and acts in accordance with the rules of society), close friendships, romantic relationships, job competence, sense of humor,relationships with parents, intellectual ability (real life settings apart from school), and creativity (generation of new and important products or ideas as distinct from intellectual ability).

This detailed notion of confidence  means three things for parents seeking to promote positive youth development.  First, it underscores that confidence is not a single global concept.  Second, adults raising adolescents need to recognize that confidence is linked to age.  Finally, even the least confident teen can be helped.  Here are some practical ways you can help.


Enhance your child’s global self-worth by telling him every day that you love and value him, and create tangible expressions of it.  Share your own experiences with self-confidence issues to strengthen your relationship with your child.


Compensate for low confidence in one area by targeting an area of strength and helping your teen generalize this feeling to other areas.  Extract success from failure by enabling teens to become their own models.  Offer support in ways that build up and boost rather than undermine confidence.


Ask your teenager for help with challenges to your own sense of confidence.  Help your teen shift her focus from herself so she can better appreciate the perspective of others.  Encourage your teen to take the initiative and seek out facts that will help bolster her confidence.

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