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How to Help Boost Your Teen’s Confidence


Watching your child navigate their teenage years can be a little bit like witnessing a tightrope walker nervously set off across the wire for the first time. Except this particular acrobat’s body is in constant flux. In addition to worrying about how dizzy they are going to get when they look down at the ground, you also let out an involuntary gasp when they glance down at their phone to see what the other circus performers are saying about what they look like up there.

Some clowns even keep snapping pictures from unflattering angles, posting them with snarky comments. You desperately want to shout up some encouraging advice, but how do you make sure that you are a steadying hand instead of a startling presence?  Here are a few ways to boost your teen’s confidence and help them pull off a successful balancing act.

Help Them Control What They Can Control

Your tightrope-walking teen might be panicking about all the distractions in their environment that they can’t control. The crowd noise is so loud. They are suddenly sweating more than they have before in places they never have before, as their body seems to be reacting to the situation before consulting their brain. Try reminding them of the things about their body that they can control. A good hygiene routine can show them that there are things that they can do to take care of themselves and that they can regulate some of the things about their body that are especially flustering. What’s more, the daily rhythm of the routine can be a calming ritual. They can build on the familiar activity of washing their face by starting and concluding the day with a charcoal face wash that simultaneously cleans and soothes the skin. 

Using personal hygiene as a framework can help normalize the conversation about something embarrassing – like body odor – in terms of developing healthy habits rather than just piling on criticism. They likely already feel plenty of anxiety about the topic. 

But there are a multitude of other ways to create a daily structure for your teen that can help them discover confidence and self-discipline. The more you can model those routines for them without taking away their agency in the process, the easier it will be for them to buy into the exercise. And it doesn’t hurt if you can explain the routine’s positive results in a context that shows you are paying attention to things they’ve told you are important to them.

Give Them the Right Equipment

Don’t wait to set them up for their journey with the right gear until they are already halfway across. Your son doesn’t have to be in urgent need of a good shave before you show him the ropes. And since even shaving with a practiced hand can still result in things like ingrown hairs, make sure he recognizes remedies like razor bump cream. And if you’ve passed your oily skin on down to him along with that laugh that is just a little too loud, give him a heads-up about a gel moisturizer for oily skin

Think about the other things you picked up along the way to adulthood that could save your kid some trouble. They don’t all have to be physical objects. Maybe you now possess the communication tools that could have spared you some pointless arguments. The point is, you don’t want to greet the funambulist who just wobbled their way to the final platform with one of those balancing poles and say, “Would this have come in handy?” 

Be a Safety Net 

Just being available for your teen when they fall can be hard because it can feel unnaturally passive to parents who want to do everything they can to help their child. But you can’t always be up on that rope with them and they are going to encounter hostile conditions for which they are unprepared and of which you are unaware. They need to know that you can catch them when they fall. And that you won’t be so wounded from them taking you for granted that you try to show them what it would be like to have actually hit the ground. That involves active listening on your part. A safety net doesn’t represent the expectation of their failure, but the expectation that they are going to keep climbing back up on the rope until they can march confidently across – even if they have to fall off a few times first. Make sure you explain the difference and let them know that they can always count on your support.

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