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A Parent's Guide to Improving Your Teen's Self-confidence

by Tiffany Raiford

Everything you say to your teen affects her self-confidence level in some way, whether you tell her you’re disappointed in her poor behavior or praise her for spending time volunteering with kids. Her self-confidence is vital to her success in life. Without it, she will not thrive because she won’t have the confidence in herself to trust her decisions, speak up or make necessary changes. You have the power to improve your teen’s self-confidence level, but you also have the power to destroy it -- the line between is extremely fine.

Praise Generously

Dr. Adele Hofmann, pediatrician, advises parents to praise their teens for what they did right more often than they tear them down for what they did wrong. Your teen’s self-confidence is built when you praise him for doing something right. It’s also important that you praise him for trying, even if the results were not expected. For example, praising your son for playing well during his baseball game even though his team lost will help improve his self-confidence in a situation that would ordinarily make his confidence level falter.

Stop the Comparisons

Your teen's self-confidence is not only knowing she is worthy, smart and talented, it’s also feeling that way. Your teen’s confidence level is affected by the media, particularly by portrayals of women who are thin and beautiful. According to Kids Health, to keep your teen’s body confidence level high you have to ensure she doesn’t compare herself to others. Make sure she knows she’s beautiful and perfect just the way she is. Explain to her the power of airbrushing and provide her with examples of beautiful celebrities who aren’t stick thin or who don’t have large assets or who have an imperfect nose, and make sure she knows beautiful comes in all colors, shapes and sizes.

Encourage Your Teen to Pursue His Interests

When a teen excels at something, it helps improve his confidence level, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As his parent, your job is to recognize his talents and to encourage him to pursue them. Not only is his affinity for artwork or his ability to throw the fastest right hook in town going to give him a reason to feel confident, it’s going to keep him busy, which allows less time for him to get into self-destructive habits that will hurt his self-confidence.

Help Your Teen Turn Negatives Into Positives

You can help your teen build confidence by modeling positive behavior. For example, when you accidently forget to turn on the timer for the rolls and burn them to a crisp, say something like, “I’m only human and I make mistakes,” rather than, “I’m so stupid.” Your teen learns how to portray a positive attitude despite failing or messing up in some way when you model that behavior. According to Kids Health, a positive attitude is an effective way to build confidence.

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