How to build your teen's self confidence

Confidence is often the key to a teenager's success. Here are four things you can do to build up a teenaged loved one.

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  • Parents often wonder how they can help their teenagers have more self-confidence. It's certainly a worthwhile goal because teenagers who are more confident tend to be more successful in school, in their social circles, in extracurricular activities and later in life as well.

    Whether you are a parent, an aunt or uncle, a sibling, or a grandparent to teenagers, or even if you work with teenagers in another way, these are four things you can do to build up the teenagers in your life.

  • 1. Give him or her opportunities to serve

    There are several reasons why service will put an extra spring in your teenager's step. When he or she sees that he or she has the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others, it will teach him or her that he or she can have an impact on his environment and the people in it. He or she will also begin to think of himself or herself as a person who helps others, and therefore a "good" person. Most importantly, though, he or she will develop the habit of buckling down to do what needs to be done instead of questioning his or her ability to do it.

  • 2. Balance support and limits

    Research shows that parenting styles typically fall into four categories: authoritative (high support, high limits);, permissive (high support, low limits); authoritarian (low support, high limits); and uninvolved/neglectful (low support, low limits).

    Parents with authoritative parenting styles are the most likely to produce children with high self-esteem. An authoritative parenting style is one in which expectations are clear, fair and consistent. Parents encourage independence and express affection often. They want their children to express their opinions, and they listen to those opinions. These are not pushover or uninvolved parents, but they work with their children and allow them in an age-appropriate manner to shape their parenting.

  • 3. Teach him or her to be competent

    At the heart, confidence is knowledge that you can handle whatever comes your way, so give your teen that knowledge. Hand him or her a $50 bill and tell him to take his siblings out to dinner so he or she knows how to order, pay and tip at a restaurant.

    Send him or her to the grocery store with your list. And please, please, please don't limit their knowledge to stereotypical gender roles. Boys need to know how to cook dinner, do laundry, wash the dishes and sew on a button. Girls need to know how to change a tire, check a car's oil, change a light bulb, use power tools and mow a lawn.

    While you might not expect them to manage the household, a teenager should know how to clean a house and do minor upkeeping tasks. The more prepared your teenager is for the real world, the more confident he or she will be both in the present and in the future.

  • 4. Say these words more often (and mean them): "I trust your judgment."

    If the idea of saying this to your teenager scares you, take some time to determine the reason. After all, unless your teenager is severely troubled, he or she probably makes good decisions about 90-95 percent of the time. At the very least, there must be one area in which you trust your teenager's judgment. Let him or her know.

    Teenagers who know they have someone's trust, especially that of an authority figure, will protect that trust. Additionally, giving teenagers a chance to exercise their judgment will prepare them to make important decisions in the future.

    Remember the four parenting styles discussed earlier? Children raised with the authoritarian parenting style are more likely to be anxious and indecisive. Give your teenagers confidence through your trust in them.

    While the teenage years can be a turbulent and insecure time, they don't have to be. These four tools can empower and uplift the teenagers in your lives as they go on to fulfill their potential as successful adults.

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Rachel Chipman graduated with a bachelors degree in family life and human development. Her current goals are to read more, to write more, and to learn to type while holding her infant daughter.

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