Confident Teenagers

There are four main areas that make major contributions to how confident a teenager is.

These are:

. Relationships with friends

. Their relationship with parents

. Performance at school

. Performance in activities

All four are important. Each area supports the other and the better a teenager does in each area the higher their levels of confidence are likely to be.

Relationships with Friends

Once your child becomes a teenager their relationships with friends become of increasing importance to them. You are likely to find your own influence declining. How your children get on and interact with their friends is probably the biggest determining factor in how confident they are.

It's worth remembering that all teenagers are different. Some are happier than others with their own company and not every teenager needs a large circle of friends.

In almost all cases there will invariably be ups and downs during the teenage years. Long established friendships may wane through this period. There are a number of reasons for this, not least the speed at which different children develop physically and there have different levels of hormones in their bodies.

Throughout this stage your listening skills become of increasing importance. Guidance helps too, but the more your teenager can start to resolve their friendship issue on their own the faster they will build their own social skills.

At this stage interests tend to become more entrenched, so the majority of teenagers are able to find someone else with a similar set of interests to their own and build friendships from there.

As you are aware the mechanics of maintaining friendships have transformed in the last decade with mobile phones and social networking sites now playing a key role. Although you may have concerns about the use or indeed over use of websites such as Facebook it is important to understand that these sites play an important role within friendship groups.

Relationships with Parents

Your relationship with your son or daughter is still of great importance to them during their teenage years even if it doesn't always feel like that to you.

In the main they are looking for respect from you as they grow into adults. This can be a very difficult time for parents as teenagers want to be treated in a similar way to adults, while in the eyes of many adults they remain children.

However you approach parenting your own teenagers they are still likely to push boundaries where they can as they look for new found freedom.

How strong your relationship remains is likely to a larger degree on your ability to listen to your teenager. At this age they are not looking for you to control their lives, but you are still able to have a degree of influence if you pick your moments carefully and couch your comments as advice that they can choose to accept or not. Obviously there may still be times when you need to enforce boundaries. They are living in your home after all.

If you show them a high level of respect this will add to their confidence. If you can show trust in them their own self belief will rise as you are helping by validating their actions. Regular arguments and disagreements will have a detrimental effect on their confidence levels. You may find it becomes harder to offer praise in the way you are likely to have when your teenager was much younger. So look out for times when you can praise them. This is still important to them and will help to increase their general sense of self esteem and wellbeing.

Performance at School

Good performance at school earns respect from teachers and parents. This is very positive for a teenager, but be aware high performance can also cause problems with peers.

With an every increasing number of distractions around it can become harder and harder for a teenager to keep focused on school lessons and even more so on homework. A well balanced teenage life includes time for both schoolwork and a social life.

Homework needs to be done, but if it is becoming a battleground then it is time to rethink your strategy. You may find it beneficial to sit down and discuss the subject openly with your teenager and ask them how they would like you to support them so that homework gets done without damage being done to your relationship. This shows that you respect their input and that you have trust in them to get the job done.

It is important that you have realistic expectations as to what your child is capable of achieving. If you set the bar at unrealistically high levels your teenager will soon get the message that you think they are failing. As well as increasing distance between you it can also cause serious problems with their confidence levels.

High performance in subjects considered academic is not the be all and end all of school life. There are a variety of subjects available and if your teenager is performing well in subjects that are considered a little less academic this gives you an opportunity to praise and encourage. Whenever you see an effort being made make sure you give praise.

Performance at Activities

Performing well in an activity such as sports or music becomes of increasing importance if a teenager is finding it difficult to build happy relationships with friends.

A teenager that performs well at sports for example is likely to attract a positive response from their peer group. The same can be said for showing ability in music.

Any activities your teenager engages in can make it easier for them to build friendships. Often they find this easier when involved in specific activities as they already have something in common with other teenagers in the group.

Another advantage is that a teenager is likely to receive positive feedback from adults. As well as receiving praise from you as a parent they are also likely to receive a positive response from coaches or other organisers.

Your input remains very important, so it is a case of giving as much encouragement and support as you can. If you get the opportunity to be a spectator then do everything you can to be there. Even if your teenager is not one of the star performers at the start you can almost certainly find plus points to mention rather than being critical.

When you are selecting activities be prepared to look away from standard ones such as football for boys. Minority sports have less competition giving your child the opportunity to find success more easily. You may wish to start one by looking at clubs on offer at your son's or daughter's school.

Many teenagers can loose interest quite easily. There is not always a great deal you can do about this apart from being as supportive as you can be.

Activities do not always need to be organised. Showing skills on the pool table or in a ten pin bowling alley generate respect from peers too.

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