Building Confidence by Age: Preteens and Teenagers
When your children hit puberty, their confidence can go out of the window. This is when they are self-conscious about fitting in, what they wear, how they look, and the music they listen to changes. Their grades might drop for one of those years because every middle schooler has a hard year. You might wonder what happened to that child who had so much confidence in everything they did? There is some light at the end of the tunnel for tweens and teens and you can still help them rebuild their self-esteem and confidence. This is a whole new world for them and they have confusing feelings they haven’t felt before so remember what you went through and how awkward you felt when you were their age.
These are the years when subjects in school become a bit harder. If your child is struggling this year with math, they are probably going to feel like a failure and think they are dumb. Then there are sports and if your child doesn’t make the team, they might give up on ever trying again. This is where you come in and tell your tweens and teens that all people have flaws in life and they have to learn how to accept them. Help your child get over the dumb feeling they have and tell them sometimes it’s good to ask for help and see if that helps. Even if they struggle, they are still trying. This is a good point to help them recognize.
Make sure you still continue offering praise even if the outcome isn’t what they expected. They tried and that in itself is worth the words of their parents praise. Tell them as they get older that they can’t always control everything in life and the outcomes are something they have to use their coping skills for. You don’t want them to think you are disappointed and will lose your respect, tell them no matter what you are proud of them for trying. No one succeeds at everything all of the time. If they watch sports on TV tell them to notice if their favorite team wins or loses. Then explain, these high profile figures have to cope with loss as well including politicians and people that run for prom queen, prom king etc..
Help your tweens and teens to be assertive but not aggressive. They have to learn how to speak up for themselves because this will carry on when they are adults so the sooner they learn, the better. If they don’t understand a subject in school, ask the teacher for help, rather than feel embarrassed and stress out over failing. Explain to them that kids that aren’t afraid to ask questions are also more likely to be respected by their friends in school. They will also see that you are not afraid to ask for something when it’s really important and you don’t really care what people think.
It’s always a good idea to get your preteens and teens involved in new experiences so they can grow and learn to accomplish new things. If your child decides they want to be part of the school car wash for a fundraiser, let them try and watch how their confidence grows. Tell them you think that’s really cool that they are interested in their community and different causes in life. Many teens can start working by age 12 and deliver newspapers or babysit for kids. If your daughter wants to take a babysitting class, by all means, encourage this. Tweens and teens enjoy having their own spending money to buy things that they want. Encourage them to work if they want to or join various sports or clubs. This is how they find out what they are made of. It’s a great way to socialize while working hard on a project. The outcome will also help them build more confidence in themselves.
Don’t be afraid to set an example and show them how confident that you are as parents in your abilities to succeed. Don’t gloat over your successes but share them with the family if you got a promotion or made it into Forbes magazine. In addition, don’t make negative statements about how you look or your child will begin to feel they don’t look good either. Teach them how you conquer new challenges with confidence and talk to them about the importance of liking who they are. You can talk to your teens and preteens about times you were afraid and conquered your fear and had success by doing it. Once your kids realize that you honestly were their age at one time, they will develop a new respect for you. They will look at how confident you are now as their parents and realize that they will succeed as well.
Watch your teens and preteens and how they interact on the internet. If they feel they are only important when they get the attention they want online, this type of confidence isn’t very healthy. Your child will struggle with confidence outside of their universe on their computer when they have to face their peers. If your child only feels good if they have the right clothes and they are thin enough, this is something you as parents have to nip in the bud. Talk to your kids about looking at self-worth through rose-colored glasses, other people’s comments, and various situations and if this is how they are basing their confidence, tell them to look at the real picture. Teach them their confidence should be based on who they are as people, and how well they feel about themselves. Confidence is not based on what others think or how much money your parents have. Kids are going to learn young that people can be cruel and this isn’t an easy world to live in. Once they realize that it only matters what they think, this will encourage them to try new things and not really care what others think.