“Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, every movement, and action effects. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than a parent.” – Bob Keeshan
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Confidence in teenagers
Confidence in teenagers: what is it?
Confidence is the belief that you’ll be successful or make the right choice in a particular situation.
Your confidence is related to your self-esteem, which is feeling good about yourself and feeling that you’re a worthwhile person. But having high self-esteem doesn’t mean you always feel confident.
Confidence and resilience are related too. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences and cope in hard or stressful situations. If your child has the resilience and learns that she can cope when life is difficult, it will leave her feeling more confident to tackle difficult situations. It’s a positive cycle.
Why building confidence is important for teenagers
Confidence helps teenagers make safe, informed decisions. Confident teenagers can avoid people and situations that aren’t necessarily right for them, and find those that are.
If your child is confident, he’s also more likely to be assertive, positive, engaged, enthusiastic and persistent.
For example, a confident teenage girl whose boyfriend breaks up with her might be upset for a little while. But then she might realize that she can bounce back from the sadness she’s feeling now and focus more on the positive aspects of her life, like other friends and family. On the other hand, a girl who feels less confident in her relationship skills might be more upset or even feel that the break-up was her fault. This could also affect her self-esteem, and leave her feeling that she isn’t worth dating.
Teenagers with low confidence are less likely to join in activities, more likely to hold back in class, and might be more willing to give in to peer influence. When a child lacks confidence, he might expect to fail at things he tries, or he might not try as hard when things get tricky.
How to build confidence and resilience in your child
Here are some tips for building confidence and resilience in your child.
Look for the practical and positive things your child can do to build skills and increase her chances of success. Giving your child a clear strategy to improve her likelihood of success is a great way to help her understand exactly what she can do to achieve goals. For example, ‘Ada, if you want to be picked for the basketball team, you need to make sure you’re listening to the coach and practicing between sessions’.
Give your child opportunities to try new things
When your child tries lots of different things, he’ll get to know what he’s good at and what he enjoys. He’ll also learn that most people do well at some things and not so well at others – and that’s fine. After all, we can’t all be Olympic athletes, gaming champions or musical geniuses.
Encourage your child to keep trying
If your child fails at something, help her understand that everyone makes mistakes. It’s OK if you can’t do anything the first time you try. You could share some examples of times that you’ve failed, or have needed to keep trying at something.
Model confidence in your own ability
You can be a role model when it comes to confidence. For example, you could talk to your child about what you’re going to do to try to succeed at a task. If it doesn’t work out, you can model resilience by talking about what you’re going to try next time. You can also discuss things you’ve done that might have been scary or tough for you to do, showing your child that you’ve also been through times when you’ve needed confidence.
Encourage your child to act confident
Acting confident is the first step to feeling confident. So you could suggest to your child that he makes eye contact with others, is bold, does what he loves, tries not to focus on what he can’t do, and walks away from situations he knows aren’t good.
Practice social skills
If your child feels anxious in social situations, she might need some guidance from you. For example, body posture, smiling, connecting with others, showing interest in others’ activities and joining in conversations can help build confidence.
Praise your child’s efforts
If an exam, interview or game doesn’t work out the way your child hoped, try to praise your child for the effort he put into the activity, rather than the outcome. You could also suggest some ideas about what he could do differently next time.
Risks to teenage confidence
Your child’s confidence might be at risk if you, he or other people he respects focus on his outcomes rather than his efforts. If the outcome is a ‘failure’ – for example, a poor exam result, a grand final loss – it can seem like the end of the world. But if your child knows that his effort is what you value most, this can lessen the blow of a ‘failure’.
During adolescence, physical changes can also affect teenagers’ confidence. If teenagers feel self-conscious about their bodies, it can affect their confidence overall and how they feel about themselves.
Bullying or peer pressure to be the same as others can also affect teenagers’ confidence.
Getting help for teenage confidence
If your child’s confidence changes suddenly, or if low confidence is stopping her from trying new things, a good first step is to talk with your child. This will help you find out what’s happening for her.
If it isn’t something you can help your child with yourself, it might be a good idea to get help from a teacher, school counselor or psychologist.
Parents: how to make new friends and keep old ones
How to keep up with old friends
Even though you might feel your life has changed dramatically since having a baby, your friends are still part of who you are. They offer shared experiences and understanding. They can help maintain balance in your life, providing encouragement and sometimes a much-needed reality check.
That’s why it’s important to make time for your old friends. Here are some tips.
It’s easier to make time if you plan to do something rather than hoping it will happen by itself. Set a date to catch up with friends but don’t be worried if you have to change your plans – having a new baby can make things unpredictable!
Encourage friends to join in
Friends are interested in your life, no matter what’s going on, so you can encourage them to join in your new life as a parent.
If your friends have children, they’re likely to be understanding and supportive. Even if your friends don’t have children, they might enjoy hearing what it’s like to be a parent – delighting in the positives and sympathizing with the negatives. They might even have a fresh take on things that could help you.
Choose the right activities
Friends who don’t have children can still have fun on outings with you and your family. It’s a matter of picking the right activity, whether it’s feeding ducks at the park, going to a matinee movie screening or heading to the pool. Why not take the pram for a walk and talk with a friend?
Keep it simple
Gatherings that are easy to organize can take the stress out of getting together.
For example, a dinner where everybody brings a dish is a great way to have people over without having to worry about cooking and organizing. Another advantage is that your baby can go to bed without having his routine disrupted.
Find a babysitter
A regular babysitter and ‘date night’ can give you the chance to go out, see a movie or have dinner together. Grandparents and extended family and friends might be happy to help with this. You could also organize babysitting ‘swaps’ with friends who have children.
Talk about old and new interests
You might feel like your only identity is as a parent, but to your old friends – especially those without children – you’re just you. So in addition to your baby and life right now, talk about a broad range of things that are of interest to you and your friends.
How to make new friends
Now that you have a child, another group of friends will open up for you – other parents. Here are some good ways to meet parents:
- Join a new parents group at your neighborhood clinic or community center.
- Make the effort to chat at your local playgroup, kindergarten or play center.
- Try to stay in touch with new parents you meet at the hospital.
- Go to the park so you can chat while your children play together.
- Go to ‘parents and babies’ sessions at your local cinema.
- Join a reputable online forum where you can chat with other parents.
Building and maintaining a solid support network is really important for single parents. These friendships give you a break from your busy caring role.
Sometimes new fathers find it difficult to keep up with old friends and make new friends. The friends they had when they were single or childless tend to drop away as fathers’ social lives become more about family and children.
It’s important for both fathers and mothers to have time to themselves. Dads could organize catch-ups with their friends from before baby came along. Another option for dads is to look into new activities and social interests – for example, local sports clubs or hobby groups with a family focus.
Stay-at-home dads can be more isolated than mothers because they’re generally less likely to join new parent groups – often because they feel out of place. But
playgroups – even traditional mothers groups – can be good places for dads to meet other dads.
Fathers say that talking to their friends about their children and their new parenting experiences is one of the few personal things they feel comfortable about sharing. Talking about children and experiences of being a dad can be a way to cement new friendships or maintain old ones.