5 Ways Parents Can Boost Their Tween or Teen’s Confidence!
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Written by: Erin Putnam, Associate Professional Counselor
Imagine your once lively and bubbly kid is now an anxious, insecure teenager. A kid who used to laugh in the face of uncertainty and adventure now seems to be stuck in an endless cycle of comparison and overthinking, hindering them from exploring and trying new things. You’ve tried everything to push them out of their comfort zone, making them try out for school sports (even though they didn’t want to), setting up hangouts with other teens (people they don’t know), and even taking away their phone to force them to interact with the “real world.”
As we move from childhood to being teenagers, there’s a lot of growth and change that’s going on, not only in our minds and bodies but also in our environment. Tweens and teens are faced with more change and uncertainty than ever before in their young lives and maybe even more than they will ever experience in their entire lives. Think about it: when was the last time in your adult life that your routine changed completely almost regularly (classes, teachers, school, friends) on top of raging hormones? All of this can be difficult to manage at times, causing your tweens and teens to feel uneasy and unsure about themselves and their abilities. On top of all this, being a tween and teen is a time plagued with trying to figure out who you are, while trying to fit in and not stand out amongst peers. Building self-confidence can give your tween or teen the voice they’ve been searching for to grow and explore themselves and the world around them without fear of judgment.
After reading this blog, you’ll know how to support your tween or teen in this journey. You’ll be able to empower them, boost their confidence, and watch them soar to new heights.
- Listen to Them!
Respectfully listening and asking questions is the best and most effective way to learn more about your tween or teen and what’s going on in their lives. Modeling good communication helps show them their voice matters and you care about what they have to say. This can give your tween or teen the confidence to share with you even more and empower your tween or teen to problem-solve out loud with you. Parents, using open-ended questions, active listening, and respecting boundaries are good communication skills to practice with them, so they can feel good about using them outside the home.
2. Encourage Them!
Being a tween and teen is all about growing and exploring who you are! Parents, be their cheerleader and encourage them to try new things, explore their interests, and stand up for themselves. Through encouragement, you can create an environment where they feel it is okay to explore, grow, and change. Encouragement will look different each time you use it- sometimes it’s exploring your tween or teen’s interests along with them, or sitting in the stands cheering them on in a game they’ve barely played in, or even letting them have differing views on topics than you and letting them know that is okay.
3. Celebrate Them!
Being a tween or teen is hard enough in itself (we’ve all been there!) Letting them know you are proud of them, even if all they did was show up and try shows them it is okay to not be the best at everything they do.It shows them it’s okay to do something just because they like it, and it’s fun. Having your tween or teens do fun and enjoyable activities is one way for them to practice self-care. Having good self-care practices, such as being active, creative, or prioritizing rest from an early age can help them regulate their emotions and manage stress more effectively as they get older. More tips on stress management specifically for students and parents here!
4. Challenge Them!
Help your tween or teen broaden their knowledge and experience by challenging them to try new activities or think of things in new and different ways. It’s tough to learn or try new things, so letting them know it is okay to make mistakes will help them feel more confident to step out of their comfort zone. Tweens and teens are always being judged, graded, and watched by teachers, friends, family, social media… so it can start to feel as though they must be perfect all the time or they might get in trouble or do something wrong. Letting them know it is okay to make mistakes because it is a part of the learning process is a great way to challenge them in a more positive way.
5. Love Them! Yep, that’s right, this part is easy!
Letting your tween or teen know you love them and supporting them unconditionally will go a long way to building their confidence! Creating a supportive environment lets them know they can try anything, and you will be there to help if needed. At this point in their development, having that feeling of safety can help push them even further. Talk with your tween or teen to find out how they best feel supported and loved, so you can work towards doing that.
I think we can all agree that tweens and teens are going through a stressful time, which can weigh heavily on their self-confidence as they transition from being carefree kids to growing tweens or teens. There are many ways parents can help them feel more empowered and boost their confidence, while modeling and teaching good habits they can take with them into the world as they grow. Listening, encouraging, celebrating, challenging, and loving your tween or teen is a great framework to empower them, but it is important to remember that everyone is different, and some tweens and teens may need more or less of some of these things than others. Having regular, open conversations with your tween or teen about what they need is a good way to get a roadmap on how to help them best. Having a confident tween or teen starts at home, how are you going to empower yours?
Need more information on these skills or need more help with supporting your tween or teen? As a former school-based therapist that worked with tweens and teens in therapy with behind-the-scenes knowledge from school counselors and teachers, I can help! Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 15-minute consultation call to find out if we are a good fit to work together in therapy and follow me on Instagram @empatherintherapy for more mental health info.
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