How to Help a Shy Teen Build Self-Confidence

Teach Skills to Build Self-Confidence

Shy teens may need help building self-confidence.
Olivia Bell Photography/Getty Images/Flickr RF

There’s no need to try and force a quiet teen to become the life the party. Being shy isn't a bad thing.

But, if your teen’s shyness interferes with her ability to communicate, or it prevents her from doing things she wants to do, she may need your help building the self-confidence she needs to come out of her shell.

Why Some Teens are Shy

Shyness is an emotion that teens may feel experience mildly, moderately or even severely.

Teens on the extreme end of the spectrum may suffer from a social anxiety disorder.

Genetics can play a role in why some teens experience moderate or severe amounts of shyness. Teens whose parents grew up being very shy may be more likely to experience shyness.

Life experiences can also be a factor. A teen who has had negative experiences when trying new things, speaking up or approaching people, may become less outgoing over time. Teens who grow up with overprotective parents may also be more likely to be shy.

Passive Communication and Behavior

Passive behavior often accompanies feelings of shyness. Passive teens don’t speak up for themselves, even when rights are being violated.

That passive behavior can lead to an even bigger decrease in self-esteem, relationship problems, educational issues, and mental health problems.

For example, a shy teenager may stare at the floor when others speak to her.

She may find it difficult to make eye contract because she's so shy. If someone points out that she doesn't look at people, she isn't likely to explain why. Then, she may worry that others are judging her harshly, which could make it even more difficult for her to speak up or make eye contact. 

In addition to lack of eye contact, slumped posture is also characteristic of passive behavior.

A passive teen may prefer to blend into the back of the room and may struggle to be in large crowds. Shy teens have difficulty making decisions and making their opinion known.

They may try to please everyone by saying things like, “I don’t care,” when asked simple questions. They may fear sharing their thoughts or opinions could lead to rejection or ridicule. As a result, they often stay silent.

The Problems With Being Extremely Shy

Extremely teens can experience several types of problems. For example, a teen who doesn’t dare speak up to ask a teacher a question may fall behind in school.

Instead of seeking help when she doesn't understand an assignment, she may stare silently at her paper. Consequently, she may get poor grades because she's too shy to ask for help. 

Passive teens are also likely to experience relationship issues. If a teen doesn’t tell her friends that they’ve hurt her feelings, she may grow angry and resentful toward them over time. The issue isn’t likely to be resolved if she won't say why she's upset.

Over time, a shy teen may feel increasingly helpless. She may think she doesn't have control to improve her life and she may avoid tackling problems she encounters.

Build Your Teen’s Self-Confidence

Help build your teen’s confidence by helping her discover her talents.

Encourage her to get involved in a variety of sports, clubs, organizations or other opportunities that will help her learn new skills and uncover hidden talent. 

Provide your teen with opportunities to meet new people and get involved in new activities. Although attending events and activities can be difficult for shy teens, over time, their comfort level will increase when they enjoy positive interactions. Provide praise and positive reinforcement for your teen’s efforts.

If your teen tends to be a passive communicator, teach assertiveness skills. Help her learn how to speak up for herself so she can feel more comfortable expressing her emotions in an appropriate manner.

Seek Professional Help

Seek professional help if your child’s shyness causes educational or social problems. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or seek help from a mental health professional. A professional can help rule out other mental health issues and can determine whether or not therapy could be helpful to building your teen's confidence.

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