One of the best gifts you can give your teenager is self-confidence. Self-confidence is simply the faith or trust you have in your own capabilities. It’s about trusting your own judgments and choices. If we were to look at all the successful people, they have great self-confidence. Self-confidence will drive you to try something and to keep trying because when you are confident, you believe you have a fair chance of realizing your dreams.
Self-confident people have the courage to take new risks and stretch themselves because they know they have a good chance of achieving. They can handle themselves in tough situations. On the other hand, those with low self-confidence tend to put themselves down, blame others for their own mistakes and have a negative image of themselves. Do not confuse self-confidence with arrogance. Confidence is when you know you are good at something just like everybody else, but you can achieve your goals if you put in more effort. Arrogance is when you think you are better than everyone else.
Nothing builds self-confidence in teenagers like trust does. Trust is not blind faith. It is blind faith if a four-year-old rides a bike down a lane with his eyes closed and reckons he will reach the end without a scratch. If you let your twelve-year-old go on a hitch-hike alone, saying that he is responsible enough to look after himself, that’s blind faith. Blind faith is when we put a child in a situation he is completely unprepared for and expect him to behave like an adult. There is no proof that the child can look after himself. Blind faith is when you simply choose to trust someone in spite of past evidence or in the absence of past experience. To build a relationship based on trust, we need to have faith that is grounded in reality. The amount of trust given to children should be appropriate to their age and maturity.
Still, trust is a delicate affair. You can never be completely sure that the person you trust will never do what you do not expect him to do. Yes, he could and might do something unexpected, but because of the nature of your relationship with him, you know that he is unlikely to do so. The same is true of your child. No matter how much you trust him or her, you can never be completely certain that he or she won’t cross the line and behave in a way that is out of character of himself or herself.
It might not be easy for us to trust teenagers in certain situations. Yet research shows that teenagers who are hardly given the opportunity to be part of the decision making in their lives are more likely to rebel. When teenagers are pushed to a corner, they feel that they have no other option but to be defiant. If you would like your teenagers to espouse the same values that you believe in, it is best to create a relationship based on trust.
In a nutshell, when there is trust between you and your teenager, everything else becomes easier. Children, especially teenagers, only listen to people they trust. Teenagers are motivated to prove themselves when they feel trusted. Trust builds self-confidence in teenagers. Trust enables open, honest communication. Help your teenager to earn your trust by creating opportunities for him or her to establish a pattern of consistent, trustworthy behaviour. Every day. The opportunities you create must be appropriate to your teenager’s age and maturity.
[Adapted from Cool Boys Super Sons. Other books by Jamilah Samian: Cool Mum Super Dad, The Kindness Miracle, Leadership In Parenting, Parenting Generation Y & Z and 77 Power Parent Tips.]
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