The other day, I had a conversation with one of the girls in my dorm that ended up lingering on my mind for a good while after. Because I’m having conversations like this often, and I wonder how many moms out there are as well.
Let me set the scene.
It was during study hall hours, when the girls were quietly working on their homework. I was walking around the dorm, checking in on everyone to make sure work was getting done, and that no one was too “off task”. When I entered this one particular room, I found her, sitting on her bed, close to tears.
I asked if she was ok, and she began to tell me her struggle. One of her classes was proving most challenging. Her teacher was assigning homework each night, which she was working hard to complete. But then the daily quizzes were on something which did not line up with the homework. This was leaving poor Patty* frustrated and really anxious. She had no idea how to prepare for the quiz, and was bombing every one of them.
After some words of comfort and support, I offered her my “go to” suggestion. Why don’t you set up a time to talk to your teacher, explain to her your struggle, and ask her for help? Seems a logical suggestion, one that can offer you more clarity from your teacher, and one that can show your teacher that you care about the class and want to succeed. Win win, right?
They response I got was what keeps lingering in my mind.
This hard working, polite, always respectful young lady, looked at me with hesitation and said, “I don’t know, Mrs. Lebo. I don’t want to come across like I’m bugging my teacher. I don’t want her to think I’m attacking her. I don’t really feel confident enough to do that.”
Insert record scratch here…. Wait, what?
Did you get the part about this girl being really hard working? Respectful? Polite? Did you get the part about her doing her homework every night? About her simply being confused and needing a little clarity?
This is not a story about a girl asking for an extension on a paper she’s had 4 weeks to write but blew off for 3 ½ of those weeks. This is not about a girl who skips class and mouths off. This is a good kid. A diligent and mature young lady.
No confidence. Unsure of herself. Not willing to speak up and ask for what she needs.
Does this sound like your daughter? It might, because a lot of girls suddenly lose confidence right around their tween and early teen years. I see it more and more as a dorm parent, I used to see it in my classroom, and I’m starting to see it with my daughter.
Teen girls lose confidence in themselves, and don’t believe they are worthy of a voice, of taking up space, of standing up for themselves, whether in the classroom, with their friends, or in any of their after school activities.
So what’s a mom to do, right? You see it happening to your girl, but often feel helpless to pour that confidence back into them. How can you raise a more confident daughter? Is that even possible?
Why, yes. Yes it is possible!
In fact, if anyone can impact these teen girls, it’s us moms. Studies have shown that the part of the brain that regulates emotions is more similar between mothers and daughters than any other intergenerational pairing. That means that YOU are more likely to understand where your daughter is coming from than other adults in her life.
And there’s more. Another study showed that the connection between mothers and daughters remains stronger than other types of intergenerational family relationships, through all the changes of life. That means that you, mom, can connect with your daughter in the deepest way, for all her life.
So then, not only is it possible to connect with and empower your teen daughter, it’s pretty much vital that you do. As her mom, you are the one who can make the greatest impact.
You can build a more confident daughter!
We know the WHATS:
Our daughters tend to lose confidence during their early tween and teen years, often due to the onset of puberty, their changing bodies, and different mindsets.
As their mothers, we have the potential to have the greatest impact on our daughters’ confidence and self esteem, that we can connect with them in the most powerful way, and help build their confidence.
We know the WHY:
This one is simple. They’re our girls. They’re our everything. We want the best for them, and we can see what amazing and worthy creatures they are. We want them to see it, too.
But what about that HOW?
That’s what this blog post is all about. Today, I want to share with you FIVE SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE CONFIDENCE BOOSTERS FOR TEEN GIRLS. These are tips that you can start implementing right away, because the best time to build a confident daughter was yesterday. The second best time is right now.
1. MAKE IT A HABIT. SET AN ALARM
I have a great quote by FH Alexander hanging in my office. It says, “People do not decide their futures. They decide their habits, and their habits decide their future.”
So consider this with respect to your daughter and your desire to build up her confidence. When you think about your daughter, you envision a future where she is a confident woman, not afraid to speak her mind, not afraid to stand up for herself. And you are sitting here reading this, so chances are good that you envision yourself helping her get to that place.
Well, that’s where your habits come in.
If you want to implement actionable steps to build confidence in your daughter, then you need to make these actions a habit in your daily life. Some say that a habit takes 21 days to create, but you know, that’s just a myth. Studies show that it takes more like 66 days, which is a bit more challenging.
So here are a few ways that you can make a habit out of building more confidence in your girl.
SET AN ALARM ON YOUR PHONE
You carry an alarm clock right in your pocket all day long. Why not use it to create yourself a confidence boosting habit. Simply open up your clock app, go to the alarms, and add one in there for your daughter.
I would suggest either setting the alarm during a time when you can be present and thoughtful- perhaps early morning when you’re preparing for the day- or else, setting it for a time when you’re usually with your daughter. I set my alarm for 5 minutes before my daughter usually walks in the door after school. This way, the habit is fresh in my mind, and I can greet her after school with confident intentions.
A suggestion: set the alarm with a discreet but simple reminder- one that won’t set your daughter off if she sees it on your phone (“Reminder- build confidence in that sweet baby girl!”), but one that you’ll recognize when you see it. My phone alarm simply says “BUILD”. Easy peezy.
CREATE A HABIT TRACKER
Do you have a daily planner? A diary? A bullet journal? (oh, I’m such a bullet journal junkie) If so, create for yourself a monthly habit tracker. Add all the habits that you’re working on (drink 90oz of water per day, morning workouts, read every day, walk the dog, etc), and add this habit to the mix. At the end of each day, sit down with that tracker and check off the ones you accomplished. Knowing you’ll be sitting down with that tracker each day will help motivate you to get it done.
Here’s an example of a habit tracker I created.
3. POST IT POWER
OK, I am a little obsessed with post its, but I grew up with a mom whose bathroom mirror was covered with little yellow sticky notes that reminded her to “defrost the chicken” or “stop at the bank after work” or “buy more milk”. So I’ve always known the power of the post it note.
Use it here. All you need is one. Just leave yourself a reminder (remember, again, to keep it discreet in case your daughter comes across it), and stick it on the bathroom mirror. Every time you pass by, you’ll be reminded, which will help you create this important habit.
Remember, “your habits will determine your future”. In this case, they can determine your daughter’s future, too.
2. MODEL IT WITH YOUR SELF TALK
Let me ask you a question. When it comes to that little voice inside your head, how would you describe her? How does that voice talk to you? What little messages does that little voice give you all day long?
If your inner voice is anything like mine, she’s the meanest girl you’ve ever come across. No one could speak as mean to me as that voice in my head does, constantly whispering to me about the extra pounds I will never manage to lose, or how completely stupid I sounded at the faculty meeting the other day, or how unloveable or unworthy I am.
For real, most women struggle with an inner mean girl who constantly berates her.
And yet we want our daughters to experience something much different, to have an inner voice telling her that she’s strong, that she’s capable, that she’s beautiful, and smart and worthy of anything in life.
Are you catching the irony here? Yeah, I hope so.
If you want your daughter’s inner voice to be kinder to her, the most powerful way to influence that is to show her how it’s done. That means that you need to talk nicer to yourself! Now, this is no easy task. After all, it’s highly likely that your inner mean girl has been around for a few decades, and she’s not ready to check out yet. So you have to work on changing her message.
Here are a few ways to model some healthier self talk for your daughter:
LEAVE YOURSELF AFFIRMATIONS
In the same way that you would leave yourself post it reminders, you can do this with positive affirmations. A simple post it on the bathroom mirror with a few kind words can go a long way. You can google some powerful affirming messages, but here are a few right now:
I AM ENOUGH
I AM BEAUTIFUL AND I LOVE MYSELF JUST AS I AM
I AM IMPROVING EVERY DAY
I LOVE AND ACCEPT MYSELF FOR WHO I AM
CREATE A GRATITUDE LOG
Another great way to model self love is to become more aware of the wonderful things in your life for which you are grateful. Each day (maybe when you’re working on that habit tracker), write down one thing you are grateful for. Take note of the good things in your life. This might not speak specifically to positive self talk, but the more you see the good in your life, the more likely you are to see the good in yourself.
PRETEND YOU’RE TALKING TO HER
You would never talk to your daughter the way that inner voice of yours talks to you, so the next time you hear her bashing you, imagine she’s talking to your daughter. Your reaction will become one of protection. Feel free to speak out loud and tell her to SHUT UP! You’d do it for your girl. So do it for yourself. After all, you kind of are doing it for your girl, too.
3. HUG HER
As moms, we all heard the stories about how important our touch was to our babies. Our newborns experienced so many benefits from skin-to-skin contact with us, from a reduction in stress levels, to help with regulating body temperature. Not that we needed any reason to be snuggling with our precious little newborns. I swear it was just yesterday that I was sitting in my baby’s room, rocking her slowly, holding her close, inhaling that new baby smell, half sleep deprived, half delirious with love.
So what about now? If your daughter is like most teens, the hugs come few and far between. But don’t give up on them. There’s actually a study that shows a child needs 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 a day for maintenance, and 12 a day for growth. That goes for our teen girls, too!
But what if she’s not a hugger? I have lived with many girls who openly share that they are not huggers, and that they preferred not to be hugged. I appreciate when my girls share this, because it helps me to respect their boundaries and to give them the space that they need.
But what about your daughter? What if she’s not a hugger, or maybe just not a hugger right now? That’s ok. There are other ways for you to initiate physical contact without overwhelming her with a hug, or invading her space.
Try a simple pat on the back, or a little rub on the back. Offer a simple kiss on the forehead, or even a high five. Grab her hand at the dinner table for a quick moment. Give her a side hug, or a quick hair tousle. Physical contact is important for your daughter, no matter how you have to manage it. Your girl is probably feeling more vulnerable now, during her teen years, than she ever has before. Creating a safe space for her physically allows her to feel safe emotionally as well, which can help build her self esteem and confidence.
4. USE HER NAME
This is such a simple but powerful way to build up confidence in your daughter. Consider this.
What does it feel like when someone calls you by name? Especially when they look you in the eye while they are doing it. Even a simple hello. It makes you feel seen doesn’t it? It makes you feel singled out and special to someone.
Now consider the alternative. If someone addresses you but doesn’t use your name. Or worse, uses the wrong name. You feel disrespected, or disregarded. Invisible. Unimportant. Not worth the person’s time to remember your name.
A name is such a powerful tool for empowerment. As a teacher, as a dorm parent, I see this every day. The first thing I want to do in my classroom, or when I’m out photographing a girl is to learn everyone’s name. I will use my girls’ names as much as possible. It sends them the message that they are important to me.
So do this with your daughter. I mean, really now. You LOVE her name! You gave it to her. It’s probably one of your favorite sounds in the world.
And consider this as well.
All too often, our kids hear their names from us when they’re in trouble. Especially those full names, right? So change that message. Use her name in happiness. Use it to greet her after school. Just to say good morning. Teach her that her name is beautiful, like her. And that she specifically matters to you.
This is a super simple yet super powerful way to build confidence in your girl.
5. PROCESS PRAISE HER
I am a big proponent of praising daughters. Girls need to hear when they are doing great things, and they need to know that their mothers SEE them doing great things. Praise is a great tool for building your daughter’s confidence.
But I want to make a distinction here, between one type of praise, which might actually hinder your daughter, versus one type that can really help her.
I know, as a girl mom, you know better than to simply praise your daughter for her beauty. I see you rolling your eyes at me. I know you see her for so much more than how lovely she is on the outside.
But be careful here. When you praise your daughter for her stellar math skills, or for her exceptional eye for fashion, or for her powerful skills on the basketball court, you might be selling her short. This is what’s called “person praise”, and it focuses on the talent and ability of another person. The reason why “person praise” might be dangerous for your daughter is because it fosters what’s called a “fixed mindset”. This is where girls feel that they were born with certain traits and skills, and cannot do much more to change what they have or who they are. If your daughter hears only “person praise” from you, she might begin to label herself in one way, rather than seeing herself in new ways. This is a confidence crusher.
On the other hand, “process praise” can truly boost confidence. “Process praise” focuses on your daughters effort rather than her skill. So rather than praising her for her stellar basketball skills, you might praise her for her perseverance and drive in working so hard on her free throws. When you highlight the effort over the trait, you teach your daughter that it’s her effort that matters most. This fosters a “growth mindset”, where your daughter will learn to believe that she can develop her talents and abilities with hard work, good strategies, and help from others. Suddenly, a mistake or a setback doesn’t mean “NO”, it means “not yet”.
This is a tremendous way to build confidence in your daughter. So go easy on the person praise, and heavy on the process praise.
These are five simple but impactful ways that you can help build confidence in your daughter- and she doesn’t even have to know that you’re trying! But where 5 tips are helpful, 20 tips would be AMAZING!
Am I right?
That’s why I created an easy to download, PDF Guide for you filled with TWENTY confidence boosters for your teen girls, just like the ones here. And of course, it’s FREE!
If your daughter is a teen, then the chances are good that you, Mom, have watched her lose confidence over the years. I’d say especially if you’re reading this blog post right now.
But there is no need to lose hope! And even better, there is no need to wonder “Who in the world is going to help my daughter?” The answer, my friend, is you. You’ve got this. And with that helpful Guide I created for you, you are equipped with some awesome and actionable ways to build that confidence right back up.
It’s time our daughters realized how freaking amazing they are. We can be the ones who show them.
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