The teenage years can be daunting as our children go through a whirlwind of changes. The switch from primary to secondary school, coupled with new friendships and the physical changes of puberty can get overwhelming.

As our children approach adolescence, we need to switch gears in our parenting approach: From protecting them to preparing them for their next life stage. Even though our primary role as parents doesn’t change, we may have to adopt a friendlier persona with our teens to maintain open communication. Many teens wish that we would listen more and judge less.

The way we speak becomes their inner voice.

While their peer’s opinions start to hold more weight, our teens will turn to us for sage advice if they can count on us to hear their perspective without judgement. After all, we’ve been their biggest cheerleaders when they took their first steps, so why not now as they are taking strides towards greater independence?

The way we speak becomes their inner voice. Here are 7 affirming phrases to build their self-confidence as they find their place in the world.

7 Affirming Phrases For Teens

1. You’re brave for trying

No one likes the feeling of failing. However, the fear of failure often cripples our teenagers from trying new experiences and stepping out from their comfort zone.

We can all take a leaf from Thomas Edison who exemplified a different perspective towards failure with his famous quote – “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Redirect their thoughts on their bravery for taking the first step, which is often the hardest. By breaking their limiting self-beliefs, our teens will feel more confident in taking on new challenges.

2. You just haven’t got it YET

This powerful 3-letter word, ‘yet’, can help our youths develop a growth mindset.

In Carol Dweck’s famous TED Talk on developing a growth mindset, she sheds light on how we can all grow our brain’s capacity to learn. By using the word “yet” in their vocabulary, our teenagers are reminded that developing mastery takes effort and time.

It’s never too late to cultivate a growth mindset to help our teens see obstacles in a positive light. Praise them for their progress, not perfection. Eventually their efforts to keep practising will pay off as they move up the learning curve.

It’s never too late to cultivate a growth mindset.

3. You can do hard things

My daughter used to tell me, “But mum, this is too hard.” whenever she faced a situation that seems like a Goliath to her. After talking through the challenge and breaking it down into smaller steps, I assured her that she’s capable of doing hard things. And being a very pragmatic mum, I also remind her that harder things may come her way.

Instead of shielding our youths from tough situations, let’s train them to be mentally strong so that they can take on greater giants in life.

4. You’ve got this

We all need cheerleaders who believe in us and cheer for us. Our teens are no exceptions and it means the world to them when we support them without reservation.

Point out the hard work they’ve poured into preparing for that important presentation or big test. Affirm them that they should be so proud of themselves regardless of the outcome. Expressing our faith in our teens will enable them to shake off doubts about themselves and give it their best shot.

5. You only need to compare with yourself

Comparison is a joy thief. Instead of comparing with others, stress that your teen only needs to compare with who they were yesterday.

The danger of being caught up in comparisons is that it makes one blind to the qualities that they possess while fixating on their lack. The sinking feeling that they will never measure up can leave them feeling miserable. Instead, remind them to run their own race and live their own life.

6. You can’t control what happens, but you can control your emotions

Instead of responding negatively to things that are beyond their control, help your child to identify and focus on what they CAN control: Their attitudes, their emotions, and their responses.

Teaching them responsibility for their emotions and choices also helps them to take control over their own lives. When our youths understand this, they will be able to deal with setbacks and disappointments in a healthier way.

7. You are loved at your best and you are loved at your worst

In our performance-driven society, we may tend to give affection and praise only when our children do well and deserve it. But when they turn against us or engage in risky behaviours, how should we respond?

While we may feel disappointed or even shocked at their difficult behaviours, we must assure them that we’ll never stop loving them. Unconditional love means loving them at their best and even at their worst. Assure our kids and let them know that they can never lose your love.

During the teenage years, affirmation and approval are crucial. By speaking positively over our teens, they will feel accepted and empowered to make good decisions for themselves. Try these affirmation statements with your teenagers and watch them grow in confidence. Parents, you’ve got this!

© 2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Susan Koh

Susan is a self-confessed C+ mum who lives for coffee, chocolate and heartfelt connections. As a mum of one she believes that the best parenting style is parenting with intention and shares her motherhood journey on her blog, A Juggling Mom.

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