How to Build Your Teen’s Confidence

Confident teenager

As a tutor, a lot of my work is not just about developing a student’s academic knowledge, but also ensuring that they have the confidence to apply it independently. A lack of confidence is a major issue for many students and can seriously affect their academic and personal development. Some of these issues may stem from more serious psychological disorders, and it is very important that you discuss any concerns with a qualified professional. However, here are some general tips on how you can support your child and work with them in order to build their confidence. 

The Growth Mindset  – Having a growth mindset is essential to becoming a confident and empowered learner. People with a strong growth mindset are not afraid of challenges in learning, and recognise that even if they make a mistake, this is a sign of learning taking place, not failure. Often students with low confidence have developed a fixed mindset, which tells them that they cannot do certain tasks or subjects and there is no point in trying, as it will result in mistakes and failure. Cultivating a growth mindset means recognising the patterns of behaviour that are linked to this fixed mindset, and taking steps to rewire the brain in order to adopt a growth mindset instead. Students need to challenge their negative thoughts, and realise that learning is a journey that will sometimes consist of diversions and wrong turns, but is nonetheless a worthwhile endeavour. 

Turn perceived failures into positives – Students with a fixed mindset will often use disappointing results in order to reinforce their beliefs that they cannot succeed in a subject. However, students need to reframe feedback as an important learning opportunity. Making mistakes is a chance to learn how to improve, and feedback is not something to be frightened of, but something to be engaged with. Students should avoid dealing with feedback when they are emotional, as this is when we will often use it to confirm negative self beliefs and doubts about our abilities. When students are calm and focused, they can use feedback in order to construct a plan for improvement, identifying specific steps they can take the next time. 

Extra-curricular activities – For some students, secondary school can be a time when they withdraw from extracurricular activities, sometimes because they feel more self-conscious. However, taking part in these activities can be an effective way of building up confidence and self-belief. Encourage your child to take part in a new activity, or possibly get involved with a cause that is important to them. 

Assertive behaviour – There is a big difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Sometimes students who lack confidence can switch quickly from passive to aggressive behaviour, often out of frustration. Helping your child to express themselves in an assertive manner rather than aggressive can help them feel that they have the tools necessary to deal with any situation that may cause them discomfort. Small changes such as making eye contact with others when expressing your opinions or standing up straight and tall can make a big difference to how confident your child feels. 

Language for Success – The language that we use can often reveal a lot about subconscious beliefs that we are holding onto. Language is very powerful, and we can rewire a lot of our thought processes through changing the words that we use. Affirmations are a particularly effective tool, since they can help the subconscious to take on these messages and adjust our behaviour accordingly. One helpful strategy I find is to use the phrase “yet” when discussing strengths and weaknesses. So rather than saying “I cannot write PEE paragraphs”, the student should be encouraged to say “I cannot write PEE paragraphs yet”. This small word makes a big difference to the sentence and helps to encourage a growth mindset. 

If you would like to develop your child’s confidence and performance in secondary level English, then get in touch to find out more about how Bright Sky Tutoring can help, by contacting

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