Empower the Teen Girls in your Life

Teen Girl - AdobeStock_97489681

As a girl experiences her teenage years she faces many different pressures, often affecting her confidence. It’s not easy to help girls build their self-belief, but there’s plenty we can do. Here’s three tips to empower teen girls to see the amazing individuals they are.

1. She’s unique!

One of the contradictions of teenage life is that girls want to conform with their peers, but also feel like an individual.

Let’s encourage girls to recognise their uniqueness. Simply by considering that there is no other individual on the planet who has the same personality, abilities, attitude, and approach as each of them. Every girl is unique.

‘Growth mindset’ is helpful here, pioneered by Carol Dweck (author of ‘Mindset’). The main idea is that having a growth mindset means believing we are all capable of developing new skills. What’s key is the effort we put in and the strategies we use.

In contrast, ‘fixed mindset’ is having set ideas of what we are good or bad at (for example ‘I’m rubbish at maths’). With a fixed mindset we focus only on the end results, with an emphasis on what other people say, and external circumstances. Whereas with a growth mindset we focus on our own resources, efforts, strategies, and opinions.

Caroline Walker from local organisation Confident Teens comments: ‘We can encourage young people to embrace growth mindset through the language we use – noticing and praising effort, and that different strategies have been used – rather than focusing purely on the end result. We can help teens see how far they have progressed over time, through their own efforts.’

Confident Teens embeds growth mindset in their approach and offers a series of prerecorded videos supporting girls to gently grow their confidence step by step. Feedback from girls includes statements such as ‘I’ve learnt how to love myself for who I am’.

So much of young people’s lives is dictated by others, whether that’s the school timetable, adults’ expectations or peer pressures. But by taking a growth mindset approach the focus is on the effort they
decide to make. And that is completely within their control.

2. Empowering body confidence

Body confidence is a minefield for many teen girls. This is the first generation to have grown up when most images we see have been digitally manipulated to show perfection. Where shapes and sizes have been enhanced, and imperfections eradicated.

Sadly, many teen girls compare their own bodies to these perfect images and think they fall short. This significantly impacts how they feel about their bodies – and affects their confidence.

Our media culture has become so toxic in its pervasive message that the primary value of females is their appearance. Difficult enough for grown women to navigate, but for girls whose bodies are changing and
who often feel self-conscious, it is a lot to deal with.

But there are ways we can support girls. Helping them to understand that as every image has been digitally manipulated it doesn’t make sense to compare our actual, real body to something that has been created by a computer. These digital images are not real life or real bodies. Encourage girls to notice what real people look like when they are out and about.

Support your teen girl to recognise that it is who she is as a person that matters. Her personality, for example her ability to make others laugh, to be generous, her attitude to life – all these characteristics (and more) is what makes her who she is and why people love her and want to hang out with her. Not the colour of her hair, or how long her legs are.

As Caroline Walker from Confident Teens explains: ‘It’s who we are as people, and how we make our friends and family feel when they are with us that really matters. Not what we look like. Empowering girls to feel and believe this can help build their confidence.’

3, Kind self-talk

Our self-talk – what we say to ourselves as we go about our day – is the sound-track to our lives. We hear our own voice in our heads more than any other voice in our lifetime. And this voice has a powerful impact on how we feel about ourselves and our confidence.

Encourage girls to notice this self-talk and become aware of how it is affecting them. For many girls this is enlightening – that their own thoughts are influencing how they are feeling about themselves.

Support girls to understand they have a choice about what these thoughts are.

Two Girls Streaming Music From Mobile Phone In BedroomRemind your teen to practise kind self-talk. To be supportive and encouraging to herself, instead of finding fault and criticising herself.

This move from being critical to being kind is often more effective that asking girls to flip a negative thought to a positive one, which can be a stretch for many people.

For more ideas and resources to empower your teen girl, visit www.ConfidentTeens.co.uk.