The teen years can be rocky both for kids and parents. You want them to be happy, have friends, and be successful in their lives. Yet, many days they don’t seem up to playing the part you were hoping for them. Your teen may come across as moody, rebellious, or just out of sorts.
Brené Brown says she received some of her best parenting advice from Toni Morrison who said, “Let your face speak what's in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I'm glad to see them. It's just as small as that, you see?”
It’s so easy to get overly critical or to wish for some magic parenting book to give you all the answers of how to handle your teenager. But the truth is, you both have to work together and communicate to find the right balance.
Brown suggests one of the first steps to help increase confidence in your teens is to engage with them in a loving manner. In her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto, she writes, “I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.”
Parenting expert Dr. Sears agrees. “If you suffer from low self-confidence, especially if you feel it’s a result of how you were parented, take steps to heal yourself and break the family pattern,” Sears writes.
Follow Your Intuition
Sil Reynolds encourages moms to cultivate their inner capacity that already knows how to mother. She recommends moms get in touch with that intuitive nature and follow those natural tendencies to be more involved in their daughters’ lives.
“Although their mood swings and ambivalent feelings make it challenging to remember it, our teenage daughters crave our everyday guidance and loving support in their lives,” she writes in her book Mothering and Daughtering. “She needs to depend on you in order to become independent, she needs healthy attachment to you in order to become secure, and she needs to be guided and protected by you as she establishes an authenticity that will give her the confidence she needs in life.”
Self-Care Is Key
It’s not always easy to listen to this intuitive voice and keep your own confidence up with teens. Laurence Steinberg, one of the country’s foremost authorities on puberty, conducted a study of parents when their firstborns entered the teen years and found that 40 percent saw a decline in mental health, reporting feelings of rejection, low self-worth, and distress.
With Steinberg’s work in mind, taking time to be more mindful and nourish yourself might be one of the best ways to boost your own confidence and that of your teen.
Research has found that mindfulness practices enhance learning, improve focus, and can help boost self-esteem.
“These skills can help teenagers navigate effectively through a time in life that can be confusing, filled with uncertainties, and exceedingly stressful,” writes Jon Kabat-Zinn in his foreword to the book Learning to Breathe. These life-skills form the basis for building successful relationships, beginning with oneself.”
New to mindfulness? Try starting with this step-by-step, moment-by-moment meditation from Kabat-Zinn.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Parenting is a work in progress and increasing confidence for both teens and parents requires practice. Keep exposing your teen—and yourself—to different ways to develop confidence. And when all else fails, a little laughter or a new adventure can never hurt.
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies