Health Topics

Creating Self-Confidence During the Teen Years

Creating Self-Confidence During the Teen Years

Adolescence is the period of developmental transition between childhood and adulthood. It involves changes in personality, as well as in physical, intellectual and social development. During this time of change, teens are faced with many issues and decisions. Teenagers need to be confident in their abilities and willing to stand up to others as part of the maturing process.

Self-Esteem and Your Teen

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. The development of a positive self-image and a healthy self-esteem is very important for making a successful transition from child to adult. Here are some suggestions for helping to encourage positive self-esteem while your teen transitions into adulthood:

  • Give your child words of encouragement each day.
  • Remember to point out the things your child does right, not just the mistakes.
  • Give constructive criticism, and avoid criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame.
  • Teach your child about decision-making, and make it a point to recognize when he or she has made a good decision.
  • Help your child learn to focus on his or her strengths by pointing out all of his or her talents and abilities.
  • Allow your teen to make mistakes. Being overprotective or making decisions for teens can be perceived as a lack of faith in their abilities. This can make them feel less confident.
  • When disciplining your child, replace shame and punishment with positive reinforcement for good behavior. Shame and punishment can make an adolescent feel worthless and inadequate.

Peer Pressure

As children grow, they begin to spend more time with their friends and less time with their parents. As a result, friends can influence a child's thinking and behavior. Peer pressure can be a positive influence – for example, when it motivates your child to do well in school, or to become involved in sports or other activities. However, peer pressure can also be a negative influence – for example, when it prompts your child to try smoking, drinking, using drugs or to practice unsafe sex or other risky behaviors.

Maximizing Positive Peer Pressure

Here are some tips to help minimize the negative influences of peer pressure and to maximize the positive:

  • Develop a close relationship with your child, and encourage open and honest communication. Children who have good relationships with their parents are more likely to seek a parent's advice about decisions or problems.
  • Help your child understand what peer pressure is. The child will be better able to resist negative influences if he or she understands what's happening and why.
  • Nurture your teen's own abilities and self-esteem so that he or she is not as susceptible to the influences of others.
  • Teach your child how to be assertive and praise assertive behavior.
  • Give your teen breathing room. Don't expect him or her to do exactly as you say all of the time.
  • Try to avoid telling your child what to do; instead, listen closely and you may discover more about the issues influencing your child's behavior.
  • Provide discipline. Your child needs to understand that there are consequences to negative behaviors.