Why I started Confident Teens

Picture of Caroline Walker founder and director of Confident Teens wearing pink shirt in a forest

Caroline Walker
Founder & Director

There were two pivotal moments behind me starting Confident Teens in 2014.  The first is because I love people watching! 

I was running a different business at the time, and often used to work in cafes for a change of scene, invariably indulging in a spot of people watching. 

Over a few weeks I increasingly noticed how extremely groomed and sophisticated many teenage girls look – with immaculately straightened hair, perfectly applied make-up, fashionable clothes, and often extremely (too?) slim. 

And it made me consider just how much time, effort and energy these girls had put into looking this way.

I reflected that if they were putting all this time and energy into their appearance, what about all the other aspects of their lives, like having fun with friends, sports, hobbies, school-work, enjoying time with family and the many other dimensions of teenage life. And it made me feel sad! 

Were girls compromising the enjoyment of other parts of their lives, in order to look the way they do?

I thought further about the media culture we’re all exposed to, and how very toxic it has become, whereby it’s incessantly (and insidiously) communicated that the value of girls and women is determined by their appearance.  How wrong this is! And how undermining this can be for grown women like me, let alone for a teenage girl who’s already dealing with a changing body, and the many other pressures of teen life.

And so I moved from being sad, to angry, to determined to do something about it.    The seed of Confident Teens had been born.

The second pivotal moment is more personal.  When I was a teenager I was academically a high achiever, ultimately attending Cambridge University, with a happy family life.  However, all those A grades and academic achievements masked a lack of self-belief and feelings of low self-worth.

So my second pivotal moment came when I reflected that – with the benefit of hindsight and personal development work –  I’d tolerated bad behaviour in relationships during my 20s because I didn’t value myself highly enough to think I deserved something different, something better.  And in my career, my response to pressure or a demanding boss was working longer and longer hours (all the time!), which affected my health.  Both of these experiences were painful and exhausting to go through.  And this is where my real drive and ambition for Confident Teens comes from.

I want to empower teenage girls to believe in themselves, and value themselves.  I want them to have a deep well of feelings of their own worth and self-belief.

This will help them navigate both their teen years and their future.  So that when they are faced with challenging situations in their future, whether that’s a bullying boss at work, a high pressure work situation, unhealthy behaviour in a relationship, confrontation, disappointment, life challenges, or any other difficult circumstance, that girls (and so women) are able to face these situations from a position of strength, knowing their worth and their value.  And the same applies when they are offered positive opportunities, they don’t back away from them because of self-doubt, they come from a position of self-worth.

So these two pivotal moments came together for me, and I set about educating and training myself, closing my original business and in May 2014 I started Confident Teens, from the very beginning focused on teenage girls.  I initially offering a 2 hour Confidence Workshop which I then expanded to a Building Resilience programme with a series of six workshops, run as an after-school club.

I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of teen girls over that time, and feel proud of the difference that I have made to their thinking and feelings about themselves.

I’m not pretending that a two hour workshop is going to achieve everything that I outline above, but if every girl attending a 2 hour Confidence Workshop comes away with one changed thought about herself, then that gives a foundation for her to build further self-belief over time.

A number of girls have come up to at the end of workshops to personally thank me, one girl even gave me a thoughtfully written thank you card, which was very touching.

From the start an important aspect of the workshops has been understanding what girls got out of it, so I know whether how the content was landing with them, and for teachers and schools to understand the measure the impact.

Out of the hundreds of feedback forms I’ve read, the one that stands out, and I will always remember is when a Year 9 girl wrote on her feedback form, at the end of a 6 week Building Resilience Programme:

“I’ve learnt how to value myself and everything about me”

That meant so much to me!  I’m not ashamed to admit tears still come to my eyes when I think of it.   For that expressed precisely what I intended to give to teenage girls when I started Confident Teens.

The next chapter for Confident Teens

With the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and schools closing, my live workshops had to stop.  I took time to reassess what I offer.  And 2022 sees a new version of Confident Teens beginning.

I have proven the approach of the various workshops I run, and so now I want to put these tools and resources into the hands of teachers, so they can empower teen girls to believe in themselves and have pride in their individuality.  This way I can both help teachers who are concerned about the lack of confidence of girls in their class, and increase my reach and impact on teen girls, helping to support many more girls that I could possibly reach through running live workshops myself.

The first online training and resources for teachers is my Building Girls Confidence course, and I intend to follow that with the Building Resilience Programme, and further workshops I have designed and delivered.

Thank you for reading my story behind Confident Teens.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for empowering teen girls, and how I can further spread the word about the resources I offer.  To get in touch please email me at hello@confidentteens.co.uk or to receive the occasional update on this work please register your email address below to receive Confident Teens Insights.