Confident people make it look so easy. They believe in and trust themselves. They speak up without fear of rejection. Their body language and tone of voice says, “I’ve got this.” But where does that confidence come from? Some people are naturally more confident than others, but experts agree that confidence can be cultivated. The secret? Developing healthy habits that make it feel more natural to think and act with confidence until eventually, it’s easy. Here are four powerful practices to boost teens’ confidence:
1. Practice positive thinking.
Confident people are almost always optimists, and optimism starts with positive thinking. Optimism is “a state of hopefulness and confidence about the future,” says Positivity Project founder Mike Erwin. “It\’s also a state we can train ourselves to adopt. We can resist pessimism, assert control, and learn to appreciate setbacks as what they really are–opportunities.” To help your teen think positively, make it a goal for the whole family to look at the bright side. That doesn’t mean ignoring problems; instead, it’s about keeping the focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t and proactively seeking solutions. Empower your teen to think creatively, solve problems and find opportunities, and their confidence will increase exponentially.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
Confidence doesn’t mean you never feel fear, but it does mean you’re less likely to let fear hold you back. “Those who invite discomfort are able to achieve more, take more significant risks and break through barriers, and are open to facing new challenges,” says Angeli Gianchandani, founder of Mobility Girl, a platform designed to empower young people through mentorship. “Discomfort is a form of self-growth, pushing yourself mentally to overcome fear.” To help your teen lean into growth opportunities, encourage them to take risks to pursue their goals and find the lessons in mistakes and set-backs. Each time they get out of their comfort zone, they’re expanding their capacity for confidence.
3. Embrace self-care.
Truly confident people practice self-compassion and self-care to stay strong. “Recent research has shown self-compassion was associated with self-worth,” says Michele Patterson Ford, Ph.D., a psychologist and senior lecturer in psychology at Dickinson College. “Knowing your value is an important component of feeling confident in oneself.” Self-care habits start with self-awareness, so teach your teen to check in with themselves mentally, physically and emotionally. When they know what they need, they can take steps to provide it for themselves or ask others for help. Self-care includes everything from exercising to getting enough sleep to making time to do the things you love to do. Whatever it means for your teen, make sure they know they’re worth it and support them when they take time to nurture themselves.
4. Connect with others.
Positive psychology pioneer and University of Michigan professor Christopher Peterson was famous for saying, \”I can sum up positive psychology in just three words: Other people matter.\” Numerous studies show a powerful reciprocal relationship between feeling connected to others and feeling good about ourselves. To help your teen gain confidence through connection, make sure they prioritize IRL time with friends and family. Encourage them to express gratitude and give them tools to resolve conflict. You can also make connections together by volunteering in the community. “One of the most practical ways to be more hopeful about the future is to realize that you can and do make a difference in people\’s lives,” says writer Bill Murphy, Jr. “By focusing on helping others, we gain the added benefit of increasing our own levels of happiness and optimism.”
To help your teen learn confidence-boosting healthy habits like these, download Lucero. It’s a gamified wellness app that builds emotional regulation skills and self-care habits in just a few minutes a day. Lucero is the most fun and engaging way for tweens and teens to gain healthy habits with bite-sized content co-created by experts and teens themselves.