Adolescence is brutal. It is that phase of life which, upon looking back at it, one is happy to never revisit. For most young teens, it is a time of awkward clumsiness, acne and withering self-esteem. The transition from childhood to adolescence is often problematic, riddled with insecurity and uncertainty. Amidst a competitive peer landscape, one may feel he or she doesn’t measure up and wind up being isolated, spending his or her free time holed up in the bedroom.
These rocky, early teen years can take a toll on a youth’s self-confidence. Here are seven ideas for parents to consider while searching for ways to help their teen boost his or her confidence:
- Be truly present when they want to talk. This means to completely stop doing a chore or activity, turn to, look at and really listen to him or her. Whatever the topic; offer feedback, ask questions and get a dialog going. These conversations can offer important insights as to where the teen is at that moment in time
- Get them outside. Encourage outdoor activities that align with his or her nature and interests. For some young teens it is sports, others enjoy the arts and some like hiking, cycling, skateboarding or other outdoor activities. If they show a particular interest and want to develop their skills, enroll them in a class or sign them up for lessons. By exploring different areas of interest he or she may find a new passion, make new friends and develop a sense of pride by improving a skill or two
- Welcome their friends. The best way to create a positive vibe with teens is to invite their friends to hang out at the house. Feed them and they will be back! By being present with your teen and his or her friends, if only peripherally, parents create a sense of camaraderie in the home. This offers parents a platform to teach their teen that friendships should be built on common interests and respect, and when it is time to end a friendship
- Watch the messaging being sent. Parents have their own set of insecurities, many of them deeply entrenched. Parents should be aware of putting themselves down, deriding themselves or self-criticizing, as these behaviors will be emulated by their kids. Present a positive attitude and exhibit positive problem solving skills for teens to acquire
- Encourage work. By age 15 or 16, it is a good idea for teens to take on a part-time job. This can provide them with the opportunity to develop confidence as they learn job skills and self-discipline, as well as enjoying the reward of a paycheck. Have them take on an expense or two that they can be responsible for and teach them to save or even invest money
- Volunteer. Nothing builds character like doing something nice for someone in need. By introducing teens to the value of giving, parents will be helping them build a sense of self worth. The sense of satisfaction they will derive from helping out at a soup kitchen or a food drive will motivate them to welcome other opportunities to volunteer their services. When they are relied on for help, they can gain a strong sense of confidence
- Teach the social graces. Good parenting includes training children to present themselves in public in a courteous manner. For example, parents can demonstrate how a young man should behave towards women by positive modeling. Teaching him to open the door for a woman, demonstrating good table manners and teaching him how to shake people’s hands and look them in the eye will enable him to conduct himself confidently in a social setting
Above all of these suggestions, the most powerful tool parents possess is to support their teens. By communicating unconditional love and support, they will instill in them a strong sense of value. Parents can provide the building blocks of authentic confidence by simply showing their kids that they believe in them.
White River Academy, places an emphasis on character development in adolescent males with behavioral issues, offering life skills classes and community service oriented programs to instill qualities that lead to a productive and successful life post-recovery. For questions about White River Academy, please call 866-520-0905.