In this difficult time of uncertainty, it can be hard to know how best to support your teenager while they try to figure out their future career path. The landscape is very different for them than it was for you. Here are a few tips to help you feel more confident, supporting your teenager.
Our young adults are tech-savvy, greatly ambitious, in love with change, multi-taskers and globally connected – mainly due to being immersed in the digital world from a young age. The flip side is they are also subject to increased peer pressure, social comparison, and competition, causing self-doubt and lack of confidence.
Our youth have been consistently taught that as long as there is a will, the right mind-set and resources, everything is possible. At the same time, they are also experiencing a point in their life where they are able to do things they've never been able to do before, but lack the experience and competence to feel confident about doing those things well.
Faced with the current global crisis, the dangerous restriction to social and emotional systems and opportunities, and loss of rite of passage into adulthood celebrated in graduations and proms, our youth are stepping up and need us to do the same.
What can we as parents do to help our teenagers and young adults build confidence in a world that is shifting under their feet, now more than ever?
1. Understand the Confidence Curve
Early and late teens are often when we see the biggest dip in confidence. Not surprising, as this is the stage when they are:
a) Aged (9-13) Leaving early childhood
b) Aged (18-23) Leaving home and operating fully on their own
“In both cases, the young person must get used to functioning on a significantly expanded playing field of life experience than she or he encountered before,’ according to renowned psychologist and author Carl E. Pickhardt.
Understanding the curve is the first step to understanding what our youth are experiencing and how to support them.
The most effective way to understand the impact of that curve on your teenager is to listen to them. And listen with intent, actively. You may be surprised how much our youth share through their words and actions; as adults, we often miss the cues, and therefore the opportunities to support their journey, simply by not listening and always wanting to share our thoughts and opinions.
2. Know what they love doing and support their aspirations
Self-confidence - ‘a feeling of trust in one's abilities, qualities, and judgement’
- Oxford dictionary
Self-confidence means recognition of your abilities, self-interest, and awareness of your feelings, and is one of the most important factors in mental health.
Getting to know what your young adult loves doing and what they hate doing, how they enjoy spending their time and what makes them happy is one of the most important ways you can join them on their confidence journey.
3. Celebrate their successes
Self-confidence is largely based on our past experiences, and is gradually reinforced by our successes, whether social, emotional, intellectual, physical. Each attempt, each effort, each step forward is a massive win for your youth so celebrate it!
4. Be a family that doesn’t give up