Hi, I’m Florian Hiele, Family Coach e Youth Trainer, co-founder of Younite. In this article I would like to show you how you can measure the level of your children’s self-confidence and – most of all – what you can do to give them more confidence, if their level is low.
Before starting, you should understand two things: the first is that low self-confidence is something that affects not only your children but you as well; the second is that self-confidence cannot be strengthened just paying lots of compliments or pumping a teenager’s ego. Instead, real actions are required.
Read this article from top to bottom and start practicing these 6 steps today; you’ll see that results will come quickly.
Why is a good self-confidence so important, especially for a teenager?
Self-confidence means giving yourself confidence and respect, thus declaring that you are worthy.
The level of self-confidence in a young child is not as important as it is in a teenager. A young child is constantly taken care of and relies entirely on others for his/her needs.
On the contrary, a teenager is moving towards adulthood in baby steps, thus shifting from relying on others to relying on him/herself. This is why it is crucial for teenagers to believe in their own ability and feel as sure of themselves as they possibly can in making this transition.
In fact, teenagers with no self-confidence who don’t trust their own choices, will be blocked later on in life or will make unhealthy choices like wrong partners, underpaid jobs, or sacrificing lifestyles.
It’s been proven that 75% of psychological illnesses diagnosed in adults had their roots in teenage years. This data is not strange at all if you think that in teenage years enormous changes take place at physical, mental and emotional level and that only someone who has been able to build a strong and self-confident personality can deal with them.
As a parent you can do a lot to help your teenagers build a strong self-confidence. Even though they spend a lot of time hanging around, their home is still the best place where to learn to become well balanced healthy adults
How can you understand your children’s level of self-confidence?
In general, value for teenagers starts from their body. If they feel their body to be “attractive and likeable”, they feel much more sure of themselves. But, how do you define “attractive”, when all the incoming messages (from the media, their peers, or even their family) differ from one another.
Teenagers believe that the models they see on social media or on TV are ideals of perfection, with whom to compare themselves and they are frustrated for not complying with those standards. They aren’t prepared to understand that those models of beauty are artificial and that behind apparently perfect pictures there are absolutely normal people, with strengths and weaknesses like everyone else.
So when they start doubting the attractiveness of their own body, it’s highly likely that they will also start doubting their own ability.
The thought of being aesthetically “wrong” leads them to think that they don’t even have the intellectual and emotional ability they need to meet their goals. They start asking themselves too frequently: “am I talented?”, “what am I good at?” “am I able to do anything?”.
In these moments it is crucial for teenagers to feel free to express these fears at home without being scolded or diminished. The role of a parent, in this case, is to reassure them that they are fine just the way they are, all the while guiding them towards the discovery of their talents.
The magical key words that parents can say are: “you are fine just the way you are”.
Here below is a list of the 10 most common behaviors for low or high self-confidence. This way you can have a better idea if your children need your help or if they can already manage on their own
Signs of a low self-confidence:
- Walking head down
- Making little eye contact
- Tendency to say things like: “I’m no good at…”
- Name calling and gossiping about others trying to feel superior
- Engaging in inappropriate physical contact or avoiding physical contact
- Making dramatic/out of context gestures to be seen
- Excessive bragging about themselves to feel important
- Talking too loud or with an arrogant tone
- Avoiding social experiences; they have a hard time comparing themselves to others
- Constantly apologizing, especially outside the family circle
Signs of a high self-confidence:
- Engaging with others during social activities always being themselves
- Being able to give instructions to others showing leadership skills
- Being able to work in a team without feeling diminished
- Expressing their opinion even when openly in contrast with the opinion of others
- Using appropriate tone of voice when discussing
- Taking responsibility and acknowledging own mistakes
- Accepting compliments
- Treating others respectfully
- Looking after themselves and dealing with their own needs
- Being willing to try new things with fear of failing
6 steps to follow or avoid in order to help your teenage children have a fantastic self-confidence!
Now that you understand what your children’s level of self-confidence is and you understand the importance of having a good self-confidence as a teenager, let’s talk facts. So, follow these 6 steps and avoid these 6 mistakes and you can help your children feel more self confident and stronger now.
1 – Be emotionally available and avoid judging their emotions as “weird”
Being emotionally available means accepting all of your children’s emotions especially when they are forced to face difficult moments and challenges. Being there for them means empathizing with what they feel without judging their emotions as “weird” or “out of place” but making them feel fine they way they are, instead.
2 – Embrace your children’s uniqueness and avoid forcing them to follow your footsteps
If you want your children to have a high self-confidence, you must be open to their ideas and projects, even if they are radically different from yours. Very often parents think that their children’s good is to follow their footsteps or a specific activity. Not that this is entirely wrong, because adults have more experience and thus more wisdom, but they don’t own all the answers! So it is extremely important to respect a teenager’s ideas. Nothing is worse for their self-confidence than seeing their projects being discredited.
3 – Express realistic expectations and avoid too high or too low expectations
An example of a realistic expectation is: “tidy up your room before going out”. This kind of expectation shows your children that you have clearly in mind what you are expecting from them and – most of all – that you know they can complete that task. On the contrary, if you set very high expectations, like: “I expect you to get straight As” you will create in them a fear of failure and thus a lack of confidence in themselves. Very low expectations will get you the same result: “I can’t believe they accept you in school”. This kind of affirmation undermines your children’s mind with thoughts like “I can’t do any better than this”.
4 – Reaffirm their strengths and avoid pointing out their weaknesses
When you reaffirm your teenagers’ strengths, it’s important doing it when they least expect it, when this comment is disinterested and thus not connected to any outcome. Likewise, you should always avoid highlighting their weaknesses saying things like: “you’ve always been lazy” or “you do nothing but play all day on the PlayStation”. My advice is to replace these words with the following: “please tidy your room before laying down on your bed” or “please do your homework before playing on the PlayStation”; this way you are showing them trust besides allowing them to do what they like.
5 – Give them space to discuss and don’t force them to accept your words as the utmost truth
If you want to stimulate your children’s self-confidence, you must give them space to discuss their opinions, even when these are radically different from yours. Teenagers today get a lot of information and often know more that we do; we adults should listen to them and value their opinion. This enables them to feel more self-confident and accepted even when expressing their point of view. On the contrary, if you want to weaken them or make them insecure, you can teach them that you are always right, scolding them every time they have a different opinion from yours.
6 – Allow more time for yourself and avoid being at your children’s complete disposal
This sixth step is important because that’s the way you, as a parent, are your children’s role model. How? By respecting yourself, taking care of yourself and making the right choices for your own happiness. If you are at your children’s complete disposal you aren’t loving them more, on the contrary you are teaching them a lifestyle that does not value their needs.
How can you detect an increase in your children’s self-confidence?
If you follow these 6 steps the results are guaranteed and you will realize it because you will notice different behaviors in your children, which will be the signs of an increasing self-confidence.
At times this change can be quite sudden. During the camps we organize with Younite, for example, shy kids with no self confidence transform themselves in only 7 or 15 days! This happens because they are immersed full time in a sheltered environment with no judgment and just one rule: everyone can do it, as long as they take the leap! Thus teenagers get rid of their fear of failure and allow themselves to try new experiences, discovering their own talents and also learning from others.
Here are the main signs that will tell you that your children are more self-confident:
- They are emotionally more stable and no longer have as many ups and downs
- They are more open to try new experiences because they are not afraid of failing or being judged
- They persevere after a failure because deep down they know they can make it even if it requires more training
- They have healthier personal and social relationships; they no longer tend to shut down or choose the wrong persons
- They show good mental health, making the right choices for themselves
- They feel connected with others and do not always require attentions and validations
I would like to end telling all of you parents who are reading me: don’t feel bad, don’t judge yourselves if your children lack self-confidence.
Parenting is so challenging and if you are reading this article it means that you are ready to put yourselves out there and help your children in their growth process.
Let me know how you are doing and remember that if you need ongoing support you can always contact us. See you soon!
Family Coach e Youth Trainer