Everyone can use a little more confidence. Confidence is “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities,” and “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.”
People, including teenagers, should be able to appreciate and trust in their own abilities, strengths, and qualities. They should feel like they can rely on themselves. Teenagers with a strong ability to self-advocate often also have a high level of confidence. These two qualities encourage and support each other.
In my work as a tutor, teacher, and coach I believe the single most important part of my work is building up a teenager’s self-confidence in themselves. If they believe they can do it, the rest will follow. Teenagers, just like the rest of us, need positive reinforcement. Too often though, teenagers hear more negative adjectives and more “no” than “yes” in their worlds. Why do we constantly do this to a community of fragile egos who need encouragement?
Building real confidence in teenagers requires a constant, consistent effort. We build confidence through training, practice, reinforcement, praising the good, and working to improve the weaknesses. Good coaches train their proteges, great coaches help their proteges realize their skills were already there and to believe in themselves.
Sometimes I see confidence issues in a certain subject (I am terrible at math, I was never good at science, etc) and that is always where I start. The first, and most important step, is to stop ALL negative self-talk. I do not let a student tell me they are bad/terrible/not good at/etc anything. They can share weaknesses and areas they want to improve and we always find a point of confidence to start with. Often I will assign students goofy homework, but it nearly always helps. I will tell the student with math “issues” that every time they walk through a doorway in their life they need to say something positive about their math skills – even if they start with “I don’t stink at math!” Think about how many times in a day you walk through a doorway 🙂
Helping teenagers build realistic, positive, self-confidence is so important and a central component to overcoming the feeling of “not enough” too many kids experience today. Let’s work together to help teenagers be proud of who they are now, who they are becoming, and help them develop confidence on their journey.