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My high school daughter lacks confidence. How can I help her?

May 9, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A group of teen listens intently to a confident female during a discussion.

Question: My high school daughter lacks confidence. She doesn’t speak up in class, doesn’t have a lot of friends, and won’t join clubs or do other social activities. How can I help her build confidence so that she is prepared for adulthood when she goes to college?

Answer: First, it is important to examine why your daughter practices the behaviors you mentioned above. These behaviors might simply suggest she is introverted, and if that is the case, it does not mean that she lacks confidence.

However, if you are certain that she’s not just introverted, it’s time to address her self-esteem. You said you want her to build confidence so she is prepared to go away to college. In this context, extracurricular activities are a great option for your daughter for three reasons.

  1. Social. Your daughter will meet people she might not otherwise interact with through these activities. If she finds an activity that she is interested in, she may make new friends who share the same interests.
  2. Academic. During meetings or activities, your daughter will build skills that she may not build in the classroom. From teamwork to finding an outlet for her creativity to developing leadership skills, your daughter can become a better student because of the skills she develops in extracurricular activities.
  3. Prepare for College. Colleges and universities seek well-rounded students who have demonstrated a strong academic record and participate in extracurricular activities. The extra work shows a dedication outside of school and that the student can still earn good grades while doing something outside of the classroom.

If your daughter is initially hesitant to join clubs or other extracurricular activities, remind her that it’s very important for her college applications. If she is looking forward to going away to school, the motivation to boost her chances of getting into the school of her choice should encourage her to join one or two organizations. As she participates more frequently, she will build those skills and in turn, build her confidence.

For more information on the value of extracurricular activities and boosting self-esteem in teens, please see Through High School and Beyond, the third book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher series.

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