Ready to motivate teens and boost their confidence?
Some parents find it difficult at times to motivate teens but sometimes it might just be they lack confidence.
So how can we give them a boost of confidence?
Recently we spoke to Sean Grover. He is a practicing psychotherapist, speaker, and author with 25 years experience working with both adults and children. He explained that the very first thing that he does is find out if the kids who come to see him have these five key ingredients. (Without them, they don’t have the foundation they need to live life at their most confident.)
5 Ways to Motivate Teens and Boost Confidence
Sean shared that if a child is especially afraid, anxious or overly aggressive, rather than look directly at the symptom, first look to see if they have these five points. If they don’t, that’s the first way you should start to address the problem.
Give Kids a Tension Outlet
The first thing Sean asks kids is if they have a physical outlet, something that gets them moving.
According to CBS News, “Over 90 percent of U.S. high school students don’t get enough exercise to stay fit and healthy, and the pattern persists after they graduate, a new study finds.”
And yet, study after study shows the importance of physical exercise for not only physical well being, but also brain function and mental health.
According to About Kids Health, “The endorphins that the brain releases during exercise help to improve mood, energy levels and even sleep. Together, these positive effects help to improve self-confidence and resilience.”
As Sean explains, if you can get children moving and feeling confident in their bodies, they’re going to be more adventurous. This one point, alone, can be a game-changer for kids who struggle with stress and anxiety.
Another question for parents who want to motivate teens and boost their confidence: do they have two or three activities that they excel at?
Every child needs to have something (ideally two or three things) that makes him or her unique, a self-esteem booster.
This point is especially important for kids who struggle with self-esteem or who are uncomfortable in social settings.
Give them the freedom to explore their passions and develop those interests where they hold natural talents. Not only will it be a source of pride for them, it will also help them find others who hold similar interests (helping them find their own tribe).
We’ve written in the past about the importance of using the Authoritative Parenting Style.
As Dr. Erlanger Turner writes in Psychology Today, “Authoritative Parenting is characterized by high levels of demandingness and high levels of responsiveness. This involves high levels of nurturance, involvement, sensitivity, reasoning, and encouragement of autonomy.
This type of parenting style provides the structures, limits and boundaries that kids need to be successful.
Sean compares it to having a boss who is inconsistent with expectations and moody all the time.
Definitely not a job anyone would enjoy or thrive within!
Our kids need consistent leadership from us, behavior found in the Authoritative Parenting style, in order to feel happy and secure.
Find Models and Mentors
Dr. Lisa Damour shared with us, “When we look at the research on non-family adults, we see a couple of important things. One thing we see is that kids who are connected to a non-family adult have higher levels of achievement and lower levels of risky behavior. The other thing that we see is that when non-family adults give them a compliment or say something nice about what they’re doing, it has a much greater impact on their self-esteem than when their parents give them a compliment.”
A mentor/mentee relationship doesn’t have to be any kind off formalized arrangement.
It could be something already happening in the course of a teenager’s day. It could be a coach for the sport they play, it could be a youth pastor, organization leader, teacher, or someone they know through a work or internship arrangement.
Dr. Damour points out, teens “can’t always go to their parents in the same way that they used to because it feels babyish. That’s when it’s so valuable for them to have a teacher they can talk, to or a coach they can talk to, or a boss at work.”
Pinpoint Any Under the Radar Learning Struggles
The final thing Sean points out is that some children and teens have under-the-radar learning struggles that are impacting their ability to learn and, inevitably, impacting their confidence.
For example, they could have just enough dyslexia to slow them down, or they could have an auditory problem or an executive function problem.
These problems, while not glaringly obvious or perhaps life altering, can still be enough to undermine confidence for a child.
If you have gone through the other four points Sean suggests, this might be something to consider for your child, if fear, anxiety or over-aggressiveness are ongoing problems.
Conclusion for Ways to Motivate Teens and Boost Confidence
When children are afraid, anxious or overly-aggressive, our knee-jerk reaction is to look at the problem, directly. But many times, as psychotherapist Sean Grover points out, these problems are just symptoms of the bigger problems.
As he explains, the first thing he does when a child visits him is finds out whether they have five key points:
- Physical outlet for tension
- Self-esteem booster
- Consistent leadership from parents
- An under-the-radar learning problem
If these five areas haven’t been addressed, this is the first place he (and he suggests, parents) should start with addressing the behavior and boosting confidence.
By addressing these five key ingredients, kids will have the foundation they need to confidently go out in the world and thrive.