As parents, we all want to raise confident kids. We want them to bravely speak their minds, stand up for what they believe in, go for their goals, and embrace whatever makes them special and unique. But the teen years bring changes that can challenge kids’ confidence and even lead to setbacks in their self-esteem. Parents can help teens cultivate a confident mindset and stay strong even when they’re feeling challenged. Here are 10 expert-approved tips for building confidence in your teen:


    1. Let them make mistakes. Knowing when to step back and (gulp!) let your teen fail is one of parenting’s hardest lessons. Sounds radical, but confident kids aren’t afraid to make mistakes. Teens need to practice solving their own problems and figuring out what to do when things don’t go their way. Getting comfortable with failure is a key component of a growth mindset and boosts self-confidence.
    2. Stay on call. Confident teens take responsibility for themselves, but they also know when to call for backup. The teenage brain is a work in progress, and a parent’s perspective helps them make sense of the struggles they encounter. Knowing there’s a safety net of unconditional love and support makes all the difference when teens step outside their comfort zones
    3. Strengthen their sense of belonging. Support from parents matters most, but teens need extended family, friends, mentors, and community, too. The more people who care about and are invested in your teen, the better. Different kinds of supportive relationships give teens multiple experiences of mattering to others, and that sense of belonging helps them feel confident.
    4. Help them learn new things. Gaining skills and knowledge boosts kids’ confidence, too. The teenage brain is wired for explosive growth, seeking novelty, challenges, and new experiences. Parents can help by providing diverse opportunities for learning and growth. Everything from educational apps to volunteering together to subject-specific summer camps can spark your teen’s curiosity and develop their confidence. 
    5. Ask for their advice. Let your teen know that you respect them and value their opinion. When you’re facing a tough decision or solving a problem, talk to them about it and ask what they would do in your place. Teens are used to being on the receiving end of a lot of advice. Asking for their perspective validates their maturity and helps them feel confident stepping into a more grown-up role.
    6. Practice scary scenarios. Whether they’re facing a difficult conversation with a friend, a big speech at school, or some other event that tests their confidence, practice empowers teens to show up as the best version of themselves. You can offer to role-play the situation or talk through different possible responses or outcomes. Nothing builds confidence like having been there before.
    7. Take on challenges together. Confidence comes from achieving goals and learning how to handle setbacks and failure. Taking on challenges together as a family can empower teens to tackle their own individual aims. Run a 5K, build a treehouse, or download a self-care app together– any challenge works as long as everybody is equally invested in success.
    8. Watch for their sensitive spots. Teens are painfully aware that everything from their appearance to their abilities and achievements is under constant scrutiny from peers. Most teens are confident in some areas but not so much in others. Parents can help teens make sure these sensitive spots don’t override their overall confidence. Help them practice self-compassion, embrace their uniqueness, play up their skills and positive qualities, and surround themselves with people who love them just as they are.
    9. Protect against perfectionism. Perfectionism in teens is a big confidence-killer. High-achieving teens can get discouraged when their efforts fall short of their ideals, like the athlete driven by body dysmorphia or the honor roll student overwhelmed by anxiety because they’re not ranked top of their class. Help your teen value growth, learning, fun, and friendship over perfect scores, and remind them that their worth can’t be measured by numbers. Confident teens take pride in their achievements but don’t let those achievements define them.
    10. Model and praise courage. It’s been said that confidence is a feeling, while courage is a choice. We can’t always feel confident, but we can still choose to act with courage. When you let your teen see you being brave, you’re showing them how to face their fears, too. And when you praise their courageous acts, it validates them for taking the risk to grow. Confidence may not be necessary to act courageously, but courage always builds confidence. 

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