Helping your teen feel more confident on their first day

Starting high school is a big milestone, and it's perfectly normal for your child to be feeling anxious. Here are some helpful tips for parents and carers to reassure and support their child's self-confidence in a new educational setting.

Improving self-esteem and confidence in your teen usually starts with identifying why they might feel down about themselves in the first place. In some instances, their feelings can be directly related to their interpretation of an event such as a 'bad' first day, failing an exam, not making friends as quickly as they'd expected, or a break up.

By helping your child to understand that almost everyone has these kinds of experiences at some point, they can start to feel better.

Image: Like any new experience, your child may take some time to adjust to high school and a new routine.

Self-esteem strategies

Try these strategies to reassure your child before and after their first few days at high school.

  • Talk about the difficulties they are facing.
  • Speak their language – teenagers are often more comfortable communicating via email or text message than face-to-face communication.
  • Encourage your child to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Spend time spotting your child’s strengths and acknowledging when they use them.
  • Remind your child that their worth is not based on their achievements or appearance.
  • Praise your child for accomplishments and also effort, but also when they might fail to reach the desired results.
  • Encourage them to be proud of themselves and to keep trying – explain that everyone makes mistakes and it’s ok to fail but to try again.
  • Discuss things you’ve done that might have been scary or tough for you to do, showing your child that you’ve also been through times when you’ve needed confidence.
  • Help them look and feel more confident by teaching them how to walk tall and smile. Even if they don’t feel confident, they will feel it and others will think they are confident.
  • Closely support your child with tasks they find difficult.
  • If you notice a lack of confidence is really affecting your child, suggest they speak to their school counsellor.
  • There are also some great resources available on the youth website, ReachOut.com, that you can help your child learn about building confidence for themselves. Such as:

This article has been adapted from ReachOut.com. Find more helpful resources for parents and carers on their website.

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