Teenage girls face a lot of pressure, whether that’s feeling a need to “fit in”, navigating friendships, keeping up at school, dealing with family difficulties, social media and so much more. Due to these pressures, they often doubt themselves and their abilities, and lack confidence. As their teacher, you’d love them to believe in themselves and recognise their own capabilities. But it’s challenging. For both of you. In this article I’m sharing five teenage confidence building activities that teachers can use with their students to empower them to build their self-awareness, improve their self-talk and develop their self-belief.
Each of these teenage confidence building activities relates to one of the modules in the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence. These online materials equip teachers to run a series of six confidence-building sessions with students, suitable for tutor time, PSHE, or specific intervention with students. Also included in the materials is a single 2 hour Building Confidence workshop, which combines all the topics ; this workshop can form part of a drop-down / off-timetable day. Both options are available with a single purchase of Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence, the price is £195 for one school, giving access to all teachers for 12 months. The purchase includes everything needed to run the sessions, including slides, student worksheets, briefing notes and impact forms. Visit Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence for more details and to purchase.
Each of the following teenage confidence building activities takes approximately 10 minutes. You can of course adapt each one to suit the particular circumstances of your students.
The five teenage confidence building activities are:
1. Developing self-awareness through understanding what we enjoy
2. Setting a clear goal
3. Developing body confidence through exposing photoshopping
4. Expressing our feelings assertively
5. Speaking kindly to ourselves
The activities have been provided in this article for teachers to run with students. Normal safeguarding policies are to be in place, including risk assessment of whether these activities are suitable for the particular students taking part, and signposting for further support, as appropriate. The activities have been designed for female students aged between 11 and 14.
Activity 1 – Developing self-awareness
The first step for building girls’ confidence is to encourage them to appreciate their uniqueness. That each girl is the only person on earth with their unique personality, talents, abilities and approach to life – and how amazing is that!
- In this activity we’ll take a few minutes to reflect on ourselves, what we enjoy doing and what makes us happy
- Think about what you enjoy doing, whether that’s at school, at week-ends or in holidays, and write down a list of at least three activities. This could include a new activity you’ve just started.
- Invite students to share either in pairs, in small groups or with the whole group (as appropriate to your setting)
- Enquire who included a sport in the activities that they love doing?
- Reflect that if it’s something they enjoy doing, it’s good to enjoy a sport or some exercise regularly, whether that’s cycling, dancing, playing a sport, it’s really good to keep active. Because exercise releases hormones in our bodies that make us feel good.
- After activity – it feels good to think about the activities that we enjoy doing. It’s important that we make time for these things, as when we’re enjoying ourselves we feel happier and more content. And this helps build our confidence.
In the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence the Self-awareness module builds further on this activity with additional resources and activities to encourage teenage girls to develop their self-awareness and understanding that they are absolutely unique. This encourages them to have pride in their individuality and is the first aspect of building their confidence. The resources include everything you need to run the sessions; slides, student worksheets, briefing notes and impact forms.
Activity 2 – Setting a clear goal
In the second of these teenage confidence building activities, we’re focusing on goal setting. A key part of building girls’ confidence is to empower them to feel they have “agency” and are in control of at least some aspects of their lives. Developing clear goals is a central element to this.
- Discussion of what goals are and why they are helpful
- Decide on one area of your life where you are going to set yourself a goal. For example: sport, hobby, friends, particular subject at school, family, money. Or another area of your choice.
- Have a think about what you’d like to improve in for this area of your life
- Set yourself a specific goal to achieve in the next month
- Start a new hobby you’ve always been interested in
- Organise a cinema trip with group of friends
- Improve your grade in maths
- Save £10 to buy something you’d like
- Write your goal down – writing your goal down is the first step to achieving it.
- After activity – reflect that developing a regular habit of setting goals gives us all something to aim for. Goal setting isn’t just for new year resolutions!
In the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence the Goal-setting module builds further on this activity with additional resources and activities to take the goal that girls have set themselves, and create a plan so that they move towards this goal. This encourages girls to feel their have a sense of control, and that they can influence aspects of their lives by making choices and working towards what they want. This is key to building girls’ confidence. The resources include everything you need to run the sessions; slides, student worksheets, briefing notes and impact forms.
Here’s another article re goal setting, Students setting goals can raise aspirations – but they need something else too.
Activity 3 – Developing body confidence through exposing photoshopping
In the third of these teenage confidence building activities, we’re focusing on body confidence – such a complex and difficult area for so many girls.
Teen girls have grown up in an era when photoshopping is embedded in the images we see. Where pretty much every image we see in print and digital media has been manipulated to remove imperfections and present the person as “perfect”.
The problem with this is that teen girls (and not exclusively teen girls) compare the reality of their own bodies to these manipulated digital images. And this can significantly affect how they feel about their bodies, and impact their overall confidence.
In this activity we’re exposing photoshopping, to empower girls to realise that what they are seeing is not real.
In this teenage confidence building activity I have provided slides for you to use.
- Show the first slide of the young woman
- Ask students that if this young woman walked in the room would she actually look like this? (The intention behind this question is to encourage girls to question whether images really represent what real people look like)
- Show second slide, which shows what the young woman actually looked like – before the photoshopping process. The slide shows the contrast between the two (the image shown above).
- Invite students to discuss all the many changes they identify between the two images – changes that have been made through photoshopping
- After activity – reflect to students that it’s important to realise how almost every image they see has been digitally altered in this way – the images are fake and give an unrealistic representation. It’s key they don’t compare their reality to these fake images.
In the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence the Body confidence module builds further on this activity with additional resources and activities to help girls to develop body confidence (or at least to feel neutral about their bodies). The resources build on the activity given above, and extend to empowering teen girls to value their inner selves. This approach changes the dialogue away from what their bodies look like (and the comparisons they make), to reflecting about who they are as people and that it is this that really matters. There are always a lot of “a-ha” moments in this session, as girls grasp that they can see their bodies in a different way. The resources include everything you need to run the sessions; slides, student worksheets, briefing notes and impact forms.
Here’s another article about Three ways to improve girls’ body confidence.
Activity 4 – Expressing our feelings assertively
In the fourth of these teenage confidence building activities we are focusing on expressing ourselves. Teenage girls often feel uncertain about expressing their opinions, whether that’s in class, with adults or even with their friends. Part of feeling confident in ourselves is being able to express our thoughts and feelings. The key to being a confident speaker is to be assertive in our communication. Assertiveness means we respect both ourselves and the other person. In our communication we’re seeing each other as equals. The feeling we have is that I’m OK and you’re OK.
In this activity students practise expressing their own feelings, which is key to speaking assertively.
- Describe how expressing ourselves is all about being assertive. This involves respecting both ourselves and the other person
- When we are assertive we express our own feelings
- Three phrases that are useful for expressing our feelings are:
- I’d like…
- I prefer…
- I feel…
- Taking an example of where we can practise expressing ourselves assertively…..You’re in a situation where someone else is saying something that is upsetting you.
- Instead of saying how you want this person to change, it can be very effective to express how you are feeling in a calm and assertive way.
- Remembering the three phrases, invite students to think about what they could say in this situation
- Example: “I feel hurt and I’d like to feel respected.”
- Reflect after activity – Expressing yourself assertively takes courage, it’s not the easiest route, but the more you do it and practise it, the more natural it will come. People will notice and appreciate it, as it makes everything more straightforward when you are clearly expressing your thoughts and feelings.
In the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence the Expressing ourselves module builds further on this activity with additional resources and activities to help girls to develop their skills and confidence to express themselves. Teachers have fed back to us the difference they have noticed with girls in class, and that girls have become more confident in asking questions and contributing in class. The resources include everything you need to run the sessions; slides, student worksheets, briefing notes and impact forms.
Activity five – Speaking kindly to ourselves
In the fifth and final of these teenage confidence building activities we’re focusing on self-talk. This is such a key ingredient for building girls’ confidence. This activity is a quiet one, and it invites self-reflection.
- Explain to students that 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.
- Talking down to ourselves and being critical about ourselves is a very common thing to do. We may not even realize that we are doing it a lot of the time, because it happens so easily and so often. It can become a habit.
- Thinking something doesn’t mean it’s true or that it will happen – this is really important to understand.
- Talking down to ourselves regularly can really affect our confidence, and how we feel about ourselves.
- The first step to changing this is becoming aware of our thoughts – becoming aware of the things are we are saying to ourselves as you go about our lives. We all have choices about what we say to ourselves.
- So for the rest of today, become aware of what you are saying to yourself and notice if it is a kind thought, ask yourself whether you are being supportive and kind to yourself, or if it is a critical thought.
- If it is a critical thought, think about how you could change it to be kind to yourself. You act kindly and supportively to your friends. Show this same kindness and compassion to yourself. This will help build your confidence.
In the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence the How we talk to ourselves module further on this activity with additional resources, inspirational quotations and activities to help girls to increase their awareness of their self-talk, and develop their skills to change this so their self-talk is supportive and kind. So they are being friends to themselves. This aspect of the building confidence sessions often has a significant impact on girls, as it teaches them they have choices about how they think about themselves encourages them to be kind to themselves. The resources include everything you need to run the sessions; slides, student worksheets, briefing notes and impact forms.
I hope these five teenage confidence building activities to build girls’ confidence has been useful. And given you insights in the approach of the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence. This is available for £195, giving access to all teachers at one school for 12 months.
For more ideas for building girls’ confidence, watch the free taster lesson on Self-awareness.
Feedback from teachers and students after they enjoyed building confidence sessions
“This Confident Teens intervention has been perfect in the girls school where I work. An excellent purchase” Teacher
“I’ve learnt to think more confidently about myself and what I can do to make a difference” 14 year old girl
“I’ve learnt how to be confident and who I really am and I’ve learnt how to be true and positive to myself” 13 year old girl