A new school year is upon us! Whether your teenage daughter is eager to return to familiar territory and reconnect with friends or is full of trepidation about the year ahead, she will benefit from a boost in confidence.
Being confident develops through self-awareness. Help your daughter understand her values, strengths, and weaknesses. Take time to reflect on how last school year and the summer months have strengthened certain qualities and how she has developed new qualities. Acknowledge the strengths you see in her and how those strengths drive her decisions. Help her identify her strengths by asking, What personal strengths or skills led you to ….accomplishment/outcome/experience?
Celebrate the Strengths that Lead to Successful Outcomes
Help your daughter understand how her strengths and values work for her by shifting your focus from her accomplishments to the qualities that led to the accomplishment. When she does something well, instead of praising the outcome, ask yourself, what does this success reflect about my daughter’s character? Then, praise that!
Focus on Her Progress
In most high schools, achievements receive praise and awards. Consequently, teenage girls focus heavily on outcomes and less on what it takes to reach a desired outcome. They put pressure on themselves to achieve and feel derailed if they fall short. Most schools perpetuate the mindset that “success” (aka achievement) is all that matters. In my experience, this belief robs girls of confidence. What strengthens confidence is when they realize the value of the process and celebrate their progress. You can help by praising her effort. Acknowledge her hard work, perseverance, and determination, even if she hasn’t reached her ultimate goal. This reinforces a growth mindset and teaches her the value of doing her best.
Take a moment to consider when you are doing things for your daughter that she could do for herself. Identify where you can let-go and encourage her to take charge. Talk with her about areas of her life where she would like to take on more responsibility. Share your ideas. Remind her that you are always available to help and support but you trust she can take on more responsibilities. As she does, she will develop a stronger belief in herself and her capabilities.
Many parents put pressure on themselves to have all the answers or they believe that they know what’s best. For teenagers, this approach can create a barrier and prevent your daughter from freely expressing her thoughts, feelings, and opinions, or turning to you when she needs support. However, when you parent from a place of genuine curiosity about how your daughter thinks, feels, and dreams, you send a message of validation. You encourage the types of conversations that allow her to explore her inner world and develop a stronger sense of self.