“Did you know that 95% of teens feel inferior at some point in their lives?” Dr. RJ Jackson asks me. He knows this to be true through his years of experience in working with teens as their orthodontist.
“I love creating smiles,” he shares. “But I realized so many of my patients have beautiful smiles on the outside but are not happy on the inside.” His patients’ parents asked him to mentor their teens so often that Dr. RJ decided to become a certified life coach to help them smile on the inside, too.
One of the few life/success coaches for teens in the US, RJ Jackson has coached every teenage issue. He finds that the root of their problems is a lack of confidence.
He explains, “Even straight-A students or superstars at sports lack confidence. They may feel confident around their friends but not in larger groups. They may be confident in math but have fears about mastering physics. They may be confident at practice but ‘choke’ when the game is on the line.”
Confidence needs to be developed and practiced
Dr. RJ, founder of Life Scholars Academy, believes that confidence is not something that “lucky teens are born with” or that someone naturally acquires with maturity. He asserts, “If your child is not actively developing confidence, then the child is not confident.”
One key to developing confidence is something that produces growth, excitement, and motivation: goals.
He tells me, “From working with thousands of teenagers, I can honestly say that they rarely have real goals. They have wants, desires, hopes, and dreams, but they don’t know what to do with them. Just like confidence, creating and achieving one’s goals must be learned.”
As adults, we understand what it takes to achieve goals and that goals give you direction, a place for your mind to focus, ignite your passion and excited anticipation and create confidence in knowing where you’re going. Sometimes, you achieve that goal and, sometimes, you do not. Either way, you get closer to your dream because of focusing on the goal.
It’s the same for your teenager. Having clear goals increases a teens’ chances of getting what they want (not just what they believe they’re expected to want) from school, society or . . . parents. Dr. RJ shares some valuable advice to support your teen.
Dr. RJ’s three steps to help your teen find meaningful goals
- Pay attention. Take notice of what lights up your teen and what your teen pays attention to or is good at.
- Get your teen talking about what’s important to your teen by asking. This shifts the focus from problems of the past to possibilities of the future. You’ll notice that your teen’s mood changes. Teens get animated talking about their future goals.
- Listen carefully and don’t judge (a sure way to sap your teenager’s confidence). Your teenager may talk about goals that don’t seem possible or are not what you would want for your teen. Still, allow your teen to explore those ideas because the exercise will bring happy and confident feelings.