As a girl experiences her teenage years she faces many different pressures.  Whether that’s worries about her appearance, the incessant pressure of “keeping up” with social media, her schoolwork, difficulties with families, anxiety about the environment and many more.  All of this can impact girls’ confidence, and feelings of self-belief.  Research from the Department of Education tells us that 37% of 14 year old girls reported feeling “unhappy, worthless or unable to concentrate”.   A sad statistic.

It’s not easy to help girls build their self-belief, but there’s plenty we can do.   This article outlines the five ways to build teenage girls’ confidence.

1. Recognising her uniqueness

One of the contradictions of teenage girls (of which there are many!) is that girls want to conform with their peers, but also feel like an individual.

We can encourage girls to recognise their uniqueness.  Simply by considering that there is no other individual in the world who has the same personality, abilities, attitude and approach as each of them.  Each girl is absolutely unique!  When girls understand this and really take it on board it can help them to build a sense of pride in their individuality, and what they contribute to their family, school and community.  Feeling this sense of pride of who a girl is as an individual is a key component to building teenage girls’ confidence.

2. Being inspired by role models and setting her own goals

Teen girls learn so much from those around them.  Whether that’s at home, school, or online.  We can encourage teen girls to consider who their role models are and then analyse what these individuals have overcome to achieve their goals.  This helps girls to consider their own lives, and what attitudes they can adopt to achieve their own goals.

2 girls jumping over hurdle on track to show overcoming obstacles for blog 5 ways to build teenage girls’ confidence image

Building on this, we can encourage girls to set their own short and long term goals.  Goal setting gives girls a sense of direction and momentum, along with a feeling of agency or control over one’s destiny. For some young people, it can be too easy to drift, and that can be a barrier to learning and progress and, ultimately, confidence.  But by deciding their own goals, and being inspired by their role models that they can achieve them, girls are empowered to make progress in their lives, and build their confidence.

See this article Students setting goals can raise aspirations – but they need something else too for more ideas on empowering girls in their goal-setting.

 

3. Learning to like her body

Body confidence is a minefield for many teen girls.  This is the first generation who have been brought up with 24/7 digital images, the vast majority of which have been photoshopped to present a perfect image.  And sadly many teen girls compare their own bodies to these perfect images – and consequently feel they fall short.  This significantly impacts their body confidence.

Concern over media messages that a girl’s value is determined by her appearance was one of the driving forces behind Confident Teens being set up.  The module on Body Confidence within Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence is often the most popular with students, as this is such a challenging area for them.

The approach Confident Teens takes to helping teen girls develop body confidence, or at the very least develop a neutral approach to their bodies, is twofold.  Firstly to expose the extent of photoshopping, and enable girls to understand that practically every single image they see has been digitally manipulated to remove all imperfections and enhance shapes / sizes and more.  Please refer to activity 3 in the Five teenage confidence building activities for the classroom article to download two slides you can use in the classroom to demonstrate this point.

The second way we teach body confidence is encouraging girls to recognise that it is who they are as people that is what really matters.  Their personality, their kindness, their ability to listen, make others laugh, be generous, be helpful – all of these characteristics (and more) is what makes us human and is why people love us and want to hang out with us.  Not the colour of our hair, or how long our legs are.  Who we are as people, and how we make our friends and family feel when they are with us.

Please see this article Three ways to improve girls’ body confidence for further ideas on this area.

 

4. Expressing herself confidently

A key aspect of building teenage girls’ confidence is to teach girls how they can express themselves confidently.  This is an area that many girls find difficult, and they can shy away from expressing themselves in class, or with other adults in a home environment, or even saying what they mean when they are with friends.  This can lead to miscommunication and confusion.

In this area there are specific skills that we can teach to help girls express their opinions.  The first is to explain what assertive communication is all about, and how this differs from being passive or aggressive.  Assertive communication is when we respect the other person, listen to their view, and see ourselves as equal to them.  In contrast, when we are passive in our communication we allow the other person to decide and we just go along with it (a shoulder shrug is a classic body language sign in passive communication).  The opposite is when we communicate aggressively we dominate the other person, we feel only our view matters and we expect the other person to go along with us.

By teaching the differences between these three modes of communication we encourage girls to consider how they currently choose to communicate – and also observe how others communicate.

Three phrases that are really helpful to use in assertive communication are “I’d like…”, “I feel…” and “I’d prefer…”

In the fourth module of the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence there are exercises going into these concepts in more detail, plus activities for students to practice their assertive communication.

Please see this article Speaking up changes everything or further ideas on this area.

5. Talking kindly to herself

The fifth way to build teenage girls’ confidence is the most subtle, but is often the most powerful.  It focuses on girls’ self-talk…what she is saying to herself in her head as she goes about her day.  Our thoughts are the sound-track to our lives.  We hear our own voice in our heads more than any other voice in our lifetimes.  And this voice has a powerful impact on how we feel about ourselves and our confidence.

The first step is to encourage girls to become aware of this voice, for many girls this in itself can be a new concept – that their thoughts are influencing how they are feeling about themselves.  Then we can encourage girls to realise they have a choice about what these thoughts are.

The approach we take at Confident Teens is asking girls to be supportive – rather than critical – of themselves.  We find this is more effective that asking girls to flip a negative thought to a positive one, which can be a stretch for many people.

In the fifth module of the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence there are a number of exercises that teach this concept of choice, and lead girls to consider how they can be more supportive of themselves which in turn builds teenage girls’ confidence.

 

In this article we’ve looked at five ways to build teenage girls’ confidence.  Each of these ways represents one of the building blocks in the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence.   This is available for £195 for a school of 1,000 students.  Including 12 months access for all teachers.

 

For more ideas for building girls’ confidence, watch the free taster lesson on Self-awareness.

Green button Taster lesson for building girls confidence

Feedback from teachers and students after they enjoyed building confidence sessions

“A practical course. It’s very useful, building essential skills with the girls sharing their ideas” Teacher

“I’ve learnt how to be confident and who I really am and I’ve learnt how to be true and positive to myself” 12 year old girl

“I’ve learnt that my opinion about myself should matter more than other people’s” 13 year old girl