Did you know that girls’ confidence level falls by 30% between the ages of 8 and 14? As a parent, it’s important for you to know how to offset this dip in confidence in your teen daughter.
But first, what exactly is confidence? Some people equate confidence with an inflated ego or believing that you’re better than everyone else, but confidence is simply believing in your abilities.
On the flip side, a lack of confidence means your daughter doesn’t believe she has what it takes to accomplish what she wants. She might believe she isn’t as smart, talented, or capable as others. She might believe she is more likely to mess up than do something right. And she might think that the best way to protect herself is to hide away so no one can see her imperfections.
These flawed negative beliefs show up in her behavior as:
- Unwillingness to try new things
- Worrying about failing or making mistakes
Unfortunately, these behaviors tend to set off a negative cycle. For example, the more she focuses on perfectionism, the more she sees her flaws.
So how can you get your daughter out of this cycle and back to believing in herself? Let’s dive into six tips to help your daughter build confidence and defeat these negative beliefs about herself.
Confidence Building Tip #1: Encourage Your Daughter to Expand Her Comfort Zone
When your daughter explores new or challenging situations, she begins building the belief that she can handle difficult situations.
If your daughter is really unsure of herself, this might seem tough initially. But here’s the key: exploring outside her comfort zone sets up a positive growth cycle. Encourage your teen to start with something small to build up her confidence. Celebrating her successes—even small ones—gives her the confidence to continue exploring her boundaries. Over time, she’ll grow her confidence in herself and her abilities.
Keep in mind that every person’s comfort zone is different. What is scary for her might be easy for someone else. So you’ll want to help her identify the sweet spot—something that is a bit of a stretch so she feels some discomfort, but not so far out of her comfort zone that she is paralyzed by fear.
Confidence Building Tip #2: Encourage Her to Keep Going, Even When Things Don’t Go As Planned
If your daughter is lacking in confidence, she most likely is suffering from perfectionism too. That can look like believing she can’t be happy until everything is flawless or wanting to give up as soon as she runs into problems. But this focus on perfection and avoidance of problems only serves to reinforce her negative beliefs about herself. Instead of learning from her experiences, she sees mistakes and imperfections as proof that there is something wrong with her.
Instead, help her reframe mistakes and failures as a learning opportunity. Remind her that it’s okay when things don’t go perfectly. Mistakes, failing, being imperfect—they’re all normal.
If she’s focusing on what she did wrong, help her refocus her efforts by asking:
- What went well?
- What are you learning from this situation?
- What is something new you can try?
With this shift in thinking, your daughter will begin to build trust in her own abilities to deal with problems. And that will give her confidence a big boost.
Confidence Building Tip # 3: Talk about Previous Challenges
Talking with your daughter about how she has handled difficult situations in the past is a good way to remind her that she has the ability to push through when things get tough. After all, if she’s done it in the past, she can do it again in the future!
Talking about problems you’ve faced and how you handled them even when you were scared is a great way to get the conversation going. And don’t be afraid to share situations that you didn't know how to handle at the time. This shows your daughter that she doesn’t have to have all the answers in order to feel confident. The important thing is that believes she can show up and figure out how to handle whatever comes her way.
Confidence Building Tip #4: Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk can be an incredibly powerful way to build confidence. Your daughter might need a little help with swapping in some new, positive phrases to replace the negative thoughts swirling in her mind. Use encouraging words with her, like:
- You got this.
- This might seem difficult, but I know you can figure it out.
- You’re on the right track.
- Keep going.
Confidence Building Tip # 5: Focus on Effort
A hard truth about life is that sometimes we have to put in a lot of work before we get the results we want. Your daughter might practice violin scales for weeks before she can play a song. She might have to bake the same muffin recipe five times before she produces something edible. Instead of focusing on the result, which can hurt her confidence, praise her for the effort she’s putting in. not just the results she’s getting. For example:
- You’re practicing your violin scales so consistently. Keep it up!
- You put so much effort into making those muffins taste delicious. I really admire your persistence.
- You’ve been studying so hard for math. I’m proud of you.
Confidence Building Tip #6: Model, Model, Model
Have you ever heard the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do”? It’s a classic illustration of the way we often expect our children to follow our instructions but not to follow our example. In reality, kids are programmed to do the opposite—they copy what we do.
That’s why one of your single most important jobs as a parent is modeling healthy thoughts and behavior. Plus, teenagers are hardwired to pick up on the least sign of hypocrisy from their parents. Your daughter will notice if you tell her one thing and then do the opposite in your own life.
So, practice your own positive self-talk in front of your daughter. Stop comparing yourself to others and putting yourself down. When you’re afraid to do something, come up with a plan to conquer your fear and share that with your daughter. Break it down into multiple small steps if you need to. And then get out there and do it so she can see you taking on your fears. And most importantly, be kind to yourself: practice self-compassion and take care of yourself.
Looking for More Tips to Help Your Daughter Build Confidence?
My book Jump-Start Your Confidence and Boost Your Self-Esteem is all about how teen girls can build their confidence and self-esteem. You and your daughter will find plenty of practical tips and tools to put into use right away in this book and the Companion Journal.
Get your teen daughter on the path to healthy confidence and self-esteem – get Jump-Start Your Confidence and Boost Your Self-Esteem and the Companion Journal today.
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