Parenting Tips for Raising Confident Teens

Our teenagers and young adults are facing a quiet crisis. Our children are continuously evaluated by others due to societal and cultural pressures to load up on advanced classes, sports, extracurricular activities, volunteer hours, honors, and awards to make the perfect résumé or college application. As a result, there has been a dramatic drop in self-esteem. Even (and sometimes especially) our most ostensibly “successful” children experience self-esteem issues. Because self-esteem is weak and illusive when it is based on observable indicators of accomplishment such as grades or awards rather than an internal sense of personal worth. Our youth are becoming increasingly insecure as they chase and attain success. Low self-confidence manifests itself not just in academic endeavors like grades and test scores, but also in social arenas like peer relationships. When one’s confidence is shaken, anxiety and sadness are soon to follow. 

More than 7 out of 10 high school students said they struggle with self-confidence, and 8 out of 10 said it creates worry and interferes with school performance and social functioning, according to a recent study of over 450 students. 

Many positive outcomes are based on self-assurance. Youth who are self-assured grow up to be happier and more successful adults. Self-assurance leads to improved problem-solving skills and a greater ability to cope with stress. 

As the mother of two teenagers (a college freshman and a high school junior), I’ve witnessed firsthand the cultural pressure to succeed and its effect on self-esteem. I’ve also seen how crucial parenting is to our children’s self-esteem. In this article, we’ll discuss how parents can develop self-assured teenagers. 

  1. Talk about things other than school, college apps, or resume building. “All they ever speak about is school, grades, and college applications,” is the most common criticism I hear from teen clients about their parents. These interactions sound like further pressure from parents to youngsters who are already drowning in a sea of social demands to perform. This creates a vicious cycle in which teens avoid spending time with their parents to avoid having to deal with difficult conversations, but parents feel compelled to fill in the gaps with reminders about “important things” like grades and applications when interactions are limited, causing teens to withdraw even more. Reverse the script! Discuss politics, social concerns, your children’s friends, which teachers are humorous and which are too dry, your children’s hobbies, video games, TV shows, and books with them. 
  2. Remember the 5:1 ratio. Even when it appears that communication with your teen or young adult is at an all-time low and eye-rolls much outnumber the words they say, parents continue to be the most influential persons in their children’s development. At this age, the traditional adage of five positive words for every one negative statement is more relevant than ever. You don’t have to never nag about grades, studying, scheduling, or college applications, but you should make sure that each nagging comment is accompanied by lots of caring, supportive, and encouraging statements. 
  3. Praise effort and intention, not results. When we focus on the end result, we teach our children that the only things that matter are the items on their CV. We regard people as humans when we focus on the process, on the acts they take in their life. Demonstrate to your youngster that true self-worth comes from abiding by those internal ideals. Praise their effort, their passion, and their eagerness to try new things. This conveys the idea that they are more than their performance. 
  4. Let them solve their own problems. We mistakenly indicate to our teenagers that we don’t believe they are capable of managing their own life when we jump in and “assist.” Allowing teenagers the independence to address their own problems allows them to learn from their mistakes and gain confidence in their capacity to make smart decisions. When we aid children too much, we may protect them from some failures, but we also take away their ability to learn from their mistakes and take joy in their accomplishments. 
  5. Strengths-based parenting. Every adolescent has a unique set of skills. Some of these readily correlate with academic or social standards, while others do not. Instead of correcting or compensating for our children’s faults, strengths-based parenting stresses finding, celebrating, and magnifying their abilities. Help your child find and celebrate their basic strength of being kind, being passionate, being creative, being assertive, being intelligent, or being funny in a world that stresses the number of advanced classes, Instagram likes, or TikTok views as indicators of success. 

When you’re feeling like a phony, like you’re not actually that good of a person, success indicators seem hollow. Parents play a crucial role in their children’s self-esteem. We may help kids develop self-confidence by providing continuous positive, encouraging comments, assisting them in identifying their strengths, assisting in taking chances and overcoming challenges, and recognizing their efforts, values, and intrinsic traits. This self-assurance will enable children to grow into happier, more successful, and independent people.