Encouragement for Teenagers that Helps Build Self-Confidence

Strategy #1:  Focus on Strengths

Make a point of highlighting the positive actions you’d like to see more of. This doesn’t always mean applauding the physical, measurable result (like an A on an exam or scoring the game-winning goal), but rather the process your kid went through to get there. 

“I know how much time and energy you put into that project,” you add, “and I know how much time and energy you put into that project.”  You put forth a lot of effort; well done!” You’re emphasizing the effort of hard labor rather than the end result. This encourages your teen to put up more effort in the future. 

Strategy #2: Ask Targeted Questions

Questions that are generic elicit generic responses. “It was fine,” a teen will typically respond when asked how their day went. Instead, use specific questions to elicit information about specific areas of their day that are related to their confidence. Here’s an example of how it could go down: 

Parent: “How did science go today? Mr. Johnson talked about a new science project you are working on at the open house.”

Teen: “It was okay.”

Parent: “Just okay? What was not great about it?”

Teen: “To begin with, our group didn’t grasp the directions. Mr. Johnson can be so perplexing at times.” 

Parent: “Sounds frustrating. How did you approach the problem?”

Teen: “Well, I was irritated because no one in the group seemed to care that we didn’t know what to do.” I wanted to get started on the job right away so that I didn’t fall behind.” 

Parent: “So what did you do?”

Teen: “Because no one else was assisting, I called Mr. Johnson’s attention and indicated that we were perplexed by the directions and didn’t know where to begin.” 

Parent: “Sounds like you did a good job of communicating the needs of your group and taking initiative.”

The father appreciates the teen’s leadership, problem-solving, and forceful communication in this seemingly insignificant discussion, all of which are related to self-confidence. 

Strategy #3: Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities allow your teen to develop leadership, social skills, time management abilities, and resilience, which will aid them in overcoming obstacles. Playing sports, for example, encourages not only physical fitness but also collaboration, healthy competition, and mentorship, all of which help confidence development. 

Strategy #4: Lead by Example

Even if they don’t show it, teenagers are acutely aware of their parents’ words and actions. The way you respond to uncertainty, stress, competitiveness, and tough events (verbally and nonverbally) influences your future response. Consistency is crucial for modeling behavior. When you maintain your confidence in the face of adversity on a regular basis, it serves as a model for your kid on how to handle similar events in their own life.