~Dear Mr. Morton- Our teen daughter lacks confidence and we don’t understand why. She’s an “A” student and our home is warm and loving. She act submissive and allows her friends to make decisions for her. She’s very quiet in school , is very pretty but doesn’t date. She tells us that she feels dumb and can’t do anything but get good grades. This has been going on for three years. How can we boost her confidence and self-esteem? - Confused. (photo from theteendoc.com site, an excellent resource for parents. Click HERE to learn about teen image distortions at their site.)
Dear Confused- Your daughter’s self-esteem results from her own personal judgment of her self-worth. Her overall negative appraisal of her capabilities reflects how she interprets the successes and failures throughout many areas of her life. Earning good grades and being physically attractive are only two areas.
Because a healthy self-esteem is not a one-dimensional entity and is influenced by many factors, try talking and listening other concerns more, even if some may seem trivial to you. Perhaps you’ll uncover that her expectations are set so high that she leaves herself vulnerable to feelings of inadequacy. A “B+” grade may not be a successful event in her eyes or perhaps she feels unable to socially fit in with others as well as her friends do, despite her physical attractiveness. She may make generalizations from these events that she is “dumb” socially or that she should be doing even better academically.
Unfortunately, a recent poll found that 70 percent of teen girls feel they don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.
If she continues to remain inhibited and to show self-doubt about her capabilities, nothing good will result, for we all become what we think about. So, professional counseling is highly recommended if it persists.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and aqdjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. Questions about family, parenting, educational, or personal issues? Contact him at the secure Bpath Mail Form. Visit the national Family Journal column.