Arthur Coaching: Confident or ‘cocky’ teenagers?

shutterstock_193973885Are teenagers demons or are they being demonised? Usually, the media and general public have a bad impression of young people today.

As I understand it when I read the press, teenagers mainly fall into two (somewhat archetypal) categories:

  • The know-it-all lairy ones who answer back, full of cocky arrogance, ebullience, and loudness. The ones who hang about in gangs around the shops, drinking their way through the alcohol spectrum from beginners’ alco-pops to hardcore vodka. The extreme ones mugging grannies, dealing drugs and causing trouble.
  • The quiet ones – or the monosyllabic grunting ones; the introverted or shy awkward ones who lack social skills; the ‘Emos’ and those with teenage angst. The ones sitting alone in their rooms, playing computer games or exploring suicide sites.

It is easy to see the quiet ones as lacking in confidence. However, what if all the negative characteristics associated with teenagers actually mask a lack of self-confidence? Even hanging about in gangs resolves a fear of being alone. What if even their cocky ‘over-confidence’ was, in fact, over-compensation for a lack of real self-confidence?

The two main attributes of self-confidence are self-esteem and self-efficacy.

Self-esteem comes from being comfortable in one’s skin: a sense of our competence, coping abilities and our happiness. This comes from other people’s approval of us, in part, especially when we are very young. More importantly, it comes from our approval of ourselves.

Self-efficacy comes from mastering skills and achieving goals that matter to us. It’s our confidence in learning and working hard to succeed. This is what helps us to accept challenges and to persist when we are faced with setbacks.

Anyone at some point in his or her life must build confidence. It is hard enough for adults to do this, let alone young people, as they lack life experience and are being flooded with raging hormones affecting their emotions and judgement. Often, young people need support to develop their self-confidence.

So how do we help young people to build a balanced sense of self-confidence, based firmly in reality? Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix. The good news is that it can be more easily achieved through coaching, over a period of time.

Coaching programmes with disadvantaged young people have proved to significantly increase levels of self-esteem, aspirations and school attendance by up to 80% (CSUK – ASPIRE NLP & Life Coaching Programme, 2008). Coaching has caused a 50% drop in alcohol and drug misuse (Foyer Health Programme Test Bed, 2010), and helped young people to gain vocational qualifications, apply for / attend job interviews, resume probation contact, take up volunteering, resolve debts and apply for social housing (USC YMCA Report, 2011).

These results are promising, but this is just the start. What more can be done to build young people’s confidence through coaching?

Georges Petitjean

Founder, Arthur Coaching

Arthur trains individuals to become professional Young People Coaches. Our mission is to facilitate access to quality leadership coaching for young people