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How to Boost Confidence for a 17-Year-Old Girl

by Candice Coleman

Young women with little confidence may criticize themselves or avoid tasks that present the possibility of failure. These hindrances can escalate as a girl grows to adulthood, which can have a negative effect on her school, work and social life. While there are no guarantees that you can cure a 17-year-old girl's confidence problems, there are several ways to encourage healthy self-esteem.

Careful Praise

When your 17-year-old returns home from school, you want to encourage her. You find yourself saying, "You are so smart!" when she scores well on a test. But praise that emphasizes natural ability can actually hurt self-esteem and confidence, according to the Scholastic.com article, "Build Confidence in Your Child." When you do issue praise, focus on your teenager's effort instead. For example, "You studied a lot, and it shows." When your daughter hits a rough patch, it is also important to remind her of past successes - or how she overcame previous obstacles.

Issuing Criticism

Some days, your daughter may return home with a poor grade - or she may deliver the news that she is serving detention tomorrow. Though you may be angry, comments like, "How could you be so stupid?" or "What is wrong with you?" are not productive and can hinder confidence, according to clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, writing for Psychology Today in the article, "Your Child's Self-Esteem Starts with You." When criticism is necessary, you should keep it constructive. You might ask your daughter, "What happened?" or "What can you do differently next time?"

Encourage Exploration

Humans have a natural need to feel competent and capable, and a 17-year-old girl is no exception. Giving your daughter the opportunity to both accomplish - and fail - in a task is essential for building confidence, according to the New York University Langone Medical Center's article, "How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem." You can also encourage her to explore new subjects and interests, like chemistry. Frequently helping your daughter, getting angry when she fails at a task, or discouraging certain tasks or interests because of her gender can have a negative impact on confidence.

General Recommendations

Regular exercise, eating healthy meals and getting plenty of rest can help a teen look and feel her best, according to Langone Medical Center. Parents should also evaluate how they talk about themselves. Frequent self-criticism can encourage teenagers to have poor self confidence. If her confidence continues falling or if it interferes with her life, consult a therapist or counselor for help.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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