When asked what my teen and college student clients who come to Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama for online or in-person counseling, want to see as a result of therapy, most answer, “I want to be more confident”. Low self-esteem in teens and young adults contributes to anxious and depressive thoughts. Our opinions of ourselves greatly influence our confidence levels, how we interact in relationships and what we can accomplish in the world. Let’s get started with 5 tips to help increase confidence in teens and college students.
Here are some of the ways we can help increase the self-confidence in the teens and young adults in our lives.
1. #1 tip to help increase confidence in teens and college students: Lead by Example
Teens and young adults are watching adults to see what we do more so than what we say. Pay attention to how you speak about yourself. Are you cutting yourself down or beating yourself up about the mistakes you make? Or do you treat yourself with compassion?
Teens and college students are operating with brains that are not fully developed. The amygdala or emotion centered part of the brain is fully developed but the executive decision making part of the brain is not. At Empower Counseling I see many young clients who become stuck in black and white or all or nothing thinking. It is easy for teens and college students to believe it is not OK to make a mistake. If it is not ok to make mistakes and your teen or college student makes a mistake, he or she will self-criticize, which lowers self-esteem.
Lead by example. When you make a mistake, determine what information you can take from the experience and apply it next time, and let it go.
2. Celebrate effort and processes.
At Empower Counseling, I work with teens and college students to focus on what they can control rather than what they can not control. Focusing on what we can not control, like outcomes, leads to anxiety, which can lead to depression. Focusing on effort and process, instead of outcomes, can help your teen or college student increase self-confidence and decrease anxiety.
3. Find clarity about what your teen or college student values.
When we are clear on what we value or what is important to us, it becomes easier to speak up for ourselves. It is important for teens and college students to learn how to be assertive and stand up for what is important to them. When we stand up for what matters to us, we are proving to ourselves that we are important and we do matter. When they were younger, we played the role of advocating for what our children wanted and needed. We want to make sure that we teach our older children how to find their voices and use them to speak up for themselves.
4. Promote trying new activities and learning new subject matter.
This suggestion goes hand in hand with leading by example. It is so important to teach our children, teens, and college students that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. If they do not learn that it is ok, even expected, that we all make mistakes in life, teens and college students will learn that they should not try new things in life. We have to allow ourselves the room to make mistakes or we will not try. Trying new activities and taking classes in new subject matter are two ways teens and college students can increase their self-confidence.
5. Allow your teens and college students the space to make mistakes.
Teen and college students who comes to Empower Counseling for therapy often tell me their parents are still “treating them like children”. As our children become teens and college students we must loosen the boundaries. Once they have been on their own at college, it is confusing and frustrating to come home and be treated as if they have learned nothing about caring for themselves.
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