Article at a Glance
Emily’s 13-year-old daughter Savannah was always outgoing. When Savannah first entered junior high, she had grand plans to get involved in as many things as she could at school. But ever since Savannah didn’t make the school’s basketball team, Emily has noticed her daughter losing interest in joining other clubs and teams. This kind of confidence slump can be concerning, but it isn’t uncommon at this age.
Children at this age begin to develop a better sense of awareness of their skills. They also recognize what they lack as a result, which could lead to a confidence slump.
Lowered confidence may stem from adjusting to school life, trying to live up to expectations, or not getting along with others. It is important for us as parents to be aware of what’s happening in our children’s lives so we can be there to help them when they are down.
Signs of Middle Childhood Confidence Slumps
You can’t undo a failed tryout, but you can get to the root of what builds confidence. Here are some confidence-building basics from Berkeley:
Teens often compare themselves to others, which may lead to confidence slumps. At this age, bodies are changing rapidly. Teens often create a mental picture of what the ideal person should look like, and this is heavily influenced by unrealistic media. Not surprisingly, teens may struggle with self-image and feeling as if they don’t fit in with peers.
Social media can add to confidence slumps by highlighting only the best in people’s lives. This can quickly lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointment.
Confidence slumps may lead teens to become more closed off, fall behind in school, or even lash out at themselves or others. As parents, it’s important not to be reactive, but rather, proactive in these situations. Help your teen identify what is driving negative feelings and make a plan to limit its influence.
Sometimes trying to get information out of pre-teens and teens can be like pulling teeth, but here are signs that speak for themselves:
Connecting with a teen on an emotional level can be difficult because they crave both independence and structure at the same time. Although these two things may seem contradictory, there’s a balance. Here are some ideas from the Department of Education to help build a child’s confidence and find that balance:
You want the best for your child and seeing them struggle with confidence can be heartbreaking. If you notice changes in mood and personality that are sudden or extreme, your pediatrician should be your first call. Many mental health screenings can help separate typical developmental struggles from issues that require intervention.
Dr. Hershkop is a former New Yorker who really enjoys working with children from birth to age three, and is passionate about asthma, ADHD care, and dermatology. Languages: English, Hebrew