Where does self-confidence come from? According to researchers, confidence is built from both external elements, like a positive family environment, and internal elements, like a strong sense of self. To develop a strong sense of self, tweens and teens need opportunities for self-discovery: learning about their unique character, beliefs, abilities, and feelings. By exploring themselves, tweens and teens craft and refine the core elements of their identities. “Adolescence is a time of self-discovery and identity formation,” says Tanya Stephenson, PhD. “Building a powerful self-identity is essential for adolescents to establish a strong foundation for personal and social growth, which is in turn crucial for success and wellbeing.” 

Lucero’s wellness app is designed to make the journey of self-discovery easy and fun,  because self-discovery creates confidence, maintains mental health, and leads to lifelong well-being. Here are four key ways self-discovery guides tweens and teens towards confidence:

1. Self-discovery strengthens their capacity for self-care.

Learning how to take care of themselves mentally, physically and emotionally is a big part of tweens and teens becoming independent young adults. Self-care requires figuring out what they need to maintain their own well-being, manage stress, and find balance. As they come to value their uniqueness, adolescents get more skilled at identifying their own needs and understanding how their needs may differ from those of other people. Increased confidence also helps tweens and teens get comfortable meeting their own needs and asking others for support. 

2. Self-discovery supports self-regulation.

Lucero’s model draws from the research of Albert Bandura, who found that people learn to change their behavior, in part, through self-reflection. Reflecting on feelings and how they affect behavior begins with naming emotions, a strategy Dan Siegel calls “Name it to tame it.” Neuroimaging research shows that labeling an emotion reduces activity in the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for processing emotions. As tweens and teens get better at managing their emotions, they learn that they have control of their emotional state, which leads to more confidence.

3. Self-discovery helps them make better decisions.

The prefrontal cortex– responsible for self-control, impulse regulation, and other executive functioning skills– is still developing in teens. At the same time, increased hormones fire up the brain’s pleasure-seeking mesolimbic system. This Dual Systems Model explains why tweens and teens often struggle with making wise decisions. Self-discovery helps them make decisions based on their own beliefs, values, and goals instead of looking to others for answers. Anchored in self-awareness, a confident adolescent is less likely to just “go along with the crowd” or take a risk that jeopardizes their physical or emotional safety. And practice making decisions expands tweens’ and teens’ capacity for responsibility and confidence.

4. Self-discovery leads to a sense of purpose.

“The biggest problem growing up today is not stress, it’s meaninglessness,” says Stanford School of Education professor and psychologist William Damon. “We all need a purpose, but at that formative period of life, when you don’t even know who you are, you really need it.” Damon defines purpose as a goal that’s both “meaningful to the self and consequential to the world beyond the self.” Thus, self-discovery and purpose are intrinsically linked. When tweens and teens have opportunities to explore their curiosities, talents, and passions, they’re more likely to find activities and connections that give them a sense of purpose and build their confidence.

Lucero helps adolescents engage in self-discovery with gamified, bite-sized tools to explore their inner and outer worlds, created by licensed clinical therapists and a team of youth advisors. Our approach to self-discovery makes it easy for tweens and teens to develop self-awareness and learn emotional regulation skills, growing their confidence with each and every step.

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