Parenting is tough. It’s tough in the toddler years and it’s tougher in the teens.
It’s also tough inbetween!
Not only is it hard to meet all the physical demands and needs of a child, it’s even harder to meet their emotional demands and needs. I’m discovering this more and more now that I have a high schooler in the house (how did that happen!!?)
One of the biggest things we need to help our kids with during their time under our care is how to develop a healthy self-esteem.
Confidence is currency in this modern age and it’s vital that our kids learn how to face their fears and foes head on. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.
So just how do we as parents help to foster a healthy sense of confidence and self-esteem in our tweens and teens?
I rounded up some helpful tips on how to build confidence in tweens and teens below.
How to Build Confidence in Tweens
Be careful what you say
Kids are sensitive to words – especially those of their parents! Helping kids overcome disappointments can really help them learn what they’re good at and what they’re not so great at. Use humour, honest praise and careful criticism to help your kids learn to appreciate what makes them unique.
Be a positive role model
If you’re excessively harsh on yourself, pessimistic, or unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, your kids will eventually copy you, so be sure to nurture your own self-esteem so that they have a positive role model to look up to.
Identify and redirect inaccurate beliefs
It’s important for parents to identify kids’ irrational beliefs about themselves, whether they’re about perfection, attractiveness, ability, or anything else. Encourage kids to see a situation objectively rather than catastrophising when one thing goes wrong or they struggle in one area at school. Helping kids have an accurate view of themselves and encouraging them to set realistic goals will help them to have a healthy self-concept.
Be spontaneous and affectionate
Your love will boost your child’s self-esteem like nothing else. Ensure they know that they are loved unconditionally by you. Discovering what their love language is and displaying love to them in the way that they “feel” love will go a long way. Plenty of hugs and telling them you’re proud of them is also encouraged.
Give praise often and honestly
Too often we focus on what our kids haven’t done or haven’t done right. Tune in to the positive things your child has accomplished and offer specific praise. Be generous and sincere with your praise. Don’t lay it on for every single good thing they do, you don’t want to overdo the praise. Having an inflated sense of self can lead kids and teens to put others down or feel that they are better than everyone else, which can be socially isolating. Remember to praise your child not only for a job well done, but also for their effort. Reward effort and completion instead of outcome.
Give positive, accurate feedback
Acknowledge your child’s feelings, reward the positive choices made, and encourage the child to make the right choice again next time. Comments like “You always work yourself up into such a frenzy!” will make kids feel like they have no control over their outbursts. A better statement is, “I can see you were very angry with your brother, but it was nice that you were able to talk about it instead of yelling or hitting.”
Create a safe, loving home environment
Kids who don’t feel safe at home are at greatest risk for developing poor self-esteem. A child who is exposed to parents who fight and argue constantly may feel they have no control over their environment and become helpless or depressed.
Watch for signs of abuse
Problems at school with bullies or teachers will affect self-esteem. Encourage your kids to talk to you or another trusted adult about any problems they may be experiencing and work with them to identify ways to solve problems that are too big for them to solve by themselves.
Help kids become involved in constructive experiences
Activities that encourage cooperation rather than competition are especially helpful in fostering self-esteem. Playing in a sport team or taking part in a mentoring program in which older kids help younger ones learn can have positive effects on self-esteem for everyone involved.
When promoting healthy self-esteem, it’s important to not have too much or too little but “just enough.”
How to Build Confidence in Teens
Just like younger children, teenagers need boundaries. Establish firm rules and expectations that fit your family’s lifestyle and values. Explain clearly why the rules are important to you and your family. Make sure your teens understand the consequences if they break the rules. Clear rules communicate the value that you have for your child, and when your children know they are valued it builds their self-esteem.
Encourage decision-making and opinions
Teenagers have no shortage of opinions. Ask your teen to share their ideas and try including them in some of the family decisions. Teens want to be treated like grown-ups, so give them some opportunities to join you in the adult world when possible. Take the time to hear them out when they do have suggestions or concerns that involve the family or your home. You might be surprised at some of their great ideas!
Help your teen to associate with positive, supportive people rather than negative people who constantly put them down.
Teenagers like to be self-sufficient and want their parents to believe that they have everything under control — but that doesn’t mean that as parents we needn’t keep the lines of communication open. When you ask questions try to formulate them so that they require more than a yes or no answer. Whatsapp is a great way to stay connected throughout the day. If your teen has a big test or sports match after school send a quick message. Alternatively go back to basics and start a diary or journal for each child that they can use to write messages in when they need to offload emotionally, or a book that you can write messages to each other in.
If your child is in the middle of a conflict at school or with a friend, listen to his side of the story and don’t be judgmental. Rather be supportive. A conflict may seem trivial to us, but to a hormonal teenager it could be a major source of frustration in their lives. Get in the habit of supporting your child through the good and the bad. This will lay a strong foundation for open communication when bigger challenges come around. Most importantly, when things are going well, continually remind your teen that you are always willing to listen and help in any way you can. For teens, knowing they have a parent who loves and accepts them unconditionally can greatly help to build their self-confidence.
No one likes to be told they didn’t do something right, particularly if it is done in anger. Choose when and how you criticize your teen wisely and NEVER criticize in front of others!
If your teen has an obvious interest or talent, despite the fact that it isn’t something near and dear to your heart, learn more about why they are passionate about it and encourage them every step of the way. If your child knows you are behind them they are more likely to be successful and will feel confident in their choices and decisions.
Remember to remind your kids that “Average” does not make them any less special as a person.
Self-esteem Tools and Tips for Tweens and Teens
These tools can help you build your child’s self-esteem and encourage them to take more necessary risks so as they mature, they develop into confident, well-adjusted adults.
Know. Too often people join the wrong crowd in search of themselves. Encourage your child to know who they are first. Help them to identify what they like to do and what they don’t like to do. This will help them to identify which group of kids they would most like to hang out with.
Stop. Even us adults fall into the comparison trap. We need to teach our kids to avoid comparing themselves with other people. Tell your kids: “There will always be some people who have more than you and some who have less. Some who are prettier and smarter and some who aren’t. How boring it would be if we were all the same.” Remind them to treat themselves better than they would treat a best friend.
Be. It’s important to be positive. Too often people call themselves stupid, ugly, fat, etc. Little do they know that they are taking the positive energy away from themselves. Encourage your child to immediately stop each time they use a negative name on themself and to press their thumb together with their pointer finger and cancel out the negative word. Then replace the negative word with a something positive.
List. Get your child to write down all their positive qualities. Are they honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Remind them to be generous and write down at least 10 positive qualities. Them get them to review this list often. Focusing on their positive traits will help them to become who they want to be.
Remove. Take the power out of negative words. Start turning negatives into positives. For instance, turn the word ugly into an acronym that stands for Unique, Gifted, Lovable, You. Whenever they use negative word on themselves convert it into a positive acronym. eg. Love Others Show Everyone Respect for LOSER and Gifted Enchanted Educated Kid for GEEK. No one can develop healthy self-esteem if they repeat negative phrases about their abilities, but no one can develop unhealthy self-esteem if they only hear positive phrases.
I trust this round up of tips for developing positive self-esteem and boosting self-confidence has been useful for you and your kids.
If you have any further feedback or additional tips that have worked for your tweens and teens please leave a comment below…