Power your tween's confidence!

I HAVE mentioned that tweenagers/teenagers struggle with self-esteem. In fact, we all do. Part of what builds confidence in us is the constant affirmation that we are doing well. Unfortunately, as parents we don’t always understand the importance of affirmation for our children.

Words don't come easy?

Words are so important. What we say to our tweens/teens affect how they feel about themselves, which will determine how they act. To coach our tweens/teens for success, we must learn to use our words to build up our tweenagers/teenagers and not tear them down. One important way to affirm them is to compliment them when they do something right.

In the Asian culture, we tend to withhold compliments lest our children become proud. But we need to compliment and affirm our teens to help them develop a sense of self worth.

Complimenting - an empathic skill

One way to compliment our tweens/teens is to keenly observe them and praise them when they are doing well. As coach, we may be quicker to notice the faults in our children and in highlighting them, we demoralize our tweens/teens. It is far more helpful to focus on what our tweenagers/teenagers have done well and compliment them as this will motivate them. When you notice your tweenagers/teenagers doing well, point it out.

Sample compliments!

Here are some expressions you can use to compliment them:

(a).   “Wow! I’m so impressed.”

(b).   “That’s not easy.”

(c).   “How did you do that?”

Anatomy of complimenting

The first statement (a) lets your tween/teen know you noticed the good thing he/she has done. The second statement (b) declares the difficulty of the task and the third (c) is an encouragement to let your tween/teen shares what you as coach do not know. They look like simple statements but they are very effective in affirming and empowering our tweens/teens. Say these from your heart to your tweens/teens and watch your tweenagers/teenagers glow and grow!

Affirmation - helping to overcome setbacks

Much as we would like to see our tweens/teens in high spirits all the time, they will inevitably hit the wall sometime in their lives. Part of being a good coach to our tweens/teens involves helping them cope with setbacks in their lives.

Again, as coach we do not take over their challenges and setbacks in life. Rather we use these moments to gain credibility as coach by not judging their weaknesses but instead by affirming their best efforts in their struggles. We begin by helping them to normalize their feelings and struggles and then encourage them to be hopeful in their situation. The following might be helpful in coaching our tweens/teens who are distressed by the setbacks they encounter:

  • Sympathy:   “That must have been hard for you.”
  • Normalisation:   “It could have happened to anyone.”
  • Affirmation:  “The way you responded was probably the best way in that situation.”
  • Prediction:   “Who knows? Maybe something good can come out of this!”

Use the confidence scale

Usually by the time the above short conversation is completed, your teen is already feeling better. This is when using the confidence scale can be very helpful. You can ask your tweens/teens:

  • “On a scale of 1 – 10, if 10 is exactly where you want your life to be or your perfect future, where were you when you first encountered the setback?"
  • "Where are you now?"

There will usually be some improvements. This is when as coach, we need to highlight the progress that he/she (not you) is making by asking “Wow, how did this happen? What did you do?”

By this time your tweens/teens would have regained some confidence and then you can ask this next question:

  • "What would need to happen for you to say you have moved half a step further along?"

As your tween/teen becomes clearer of the next small steps he/she needs to take, they will be on their way to regaining the confidence they had lost as a result of the setbacks. It is important your tweens/teens come up with the ideas for the next few steps and that they recognize their efforts in the progress made. You assist them by highlighting their efforts when they succeed in the next few small steps.

May you succeed in coaching your tweens/teens to overcome setbacks in life!

Reflection pointers for fathers

  • Do you remember a time when you were praised for a piece of good work? How did you feel? Do you want your child to experience that?
  • Affirmation lets your child know that you are attentive and observant about what they do.
  • While a desired outcome helps us process the steps needed to get there, helping your teen see a desired future will help them formulate actions to attain their goal.
  • Think of a time you met a major setback, how can you share it positively with your teen the next time he/she meets one.

Action pointers for fathers

  • There are many interesting movies in the cinema recently. Find out which movie your child is yearning to watch and treat him/her to it. Don’t forget the popcorn and drinks.
  • Take your family for a budget holiday over the weekend. A trip to Bintan Island, Malacca, Batam etc. does not cost very much. In the setting of an overseas trip, the surrounding people are strangers. This makes you the only familiar contact person; that opens a wide window for communication and sharing over a period of two days.

Note: This article is part of a series first broadcast on 'Parenting Today' 93.8FM. Writer Edwin Choy is a Certified Solution Focus Therapist. He is also co-founder and director of the Centre for Fathering. He would like to hear your personal experiences in coaching your teens to help him improve his training workshop for fathers on coaching. Please email him at edwin@fathers.com.sg


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What's happening at Centre for Fathering (CFF)

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Our June Camp is open for registration now. Encounter the bonding experience of a lifetime to build a strong connection and relationship with your child.





Discover the key elements of building lasting relationships and learn practical tips on how to identify and deal with the major challenges faced by married couples today. Speaker:   Mr Harold Burke-Sivers Panelists:   Mr Adrian Lim Peng / Mr & Mrs Daniel Ee / Ms Juliana Choo / Ms Joanna Koh-Hoe / Mr Wong Suen Kwong / Ms Han Yah Yee / Mr Bernard Yu
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