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Surviving Teenagers Or What Can You Teach Them About Confidence?

30/03/2011 11:30 | Updated 22 May 2015

Teenager, teen girl, surviving teenagers: what can you teach about confidenceThe Apprentice finished in December, but memories of Stuart Baggs (The Brand) linger on. This was a 21-year-old astonishingly full of confidence. His belief in himself was so strong that he almost convinced the rest of us. You could imagine him as a cocky teenager, planning to rule the world.

But most teenagers don't have that kind of confidence. I remember being acutely aware of the space I took up in the world and wishing I could shrink back into the skirting boards. I thought people were looking at me and judging me. (Maybe they were. I never looked up long enough to find out.)

'I don't like people who are full of it,' says my 16-year-old.

I agree. Obnoxious self-promotion is always irritating. It seems to run in families. Pushy parents produce pushy children who grow up into teenagers with sharp elbows. Maybe they do get to the top (I expect George Osborne was a confident teenager once), but do they have any friends once they're up there?

You don't want your teenagers to be obnoxious. But you do want them to have self-belief - the kind of strength that helps them to aim high without having to squash other people to a pulp to get there. All that X Factor talk is rubbish - it's not true that if you want something badly enough you'll get it. (Even if you put in 110.) But it is true that it's hard to get anywhere without self-belief. That's what's crucial.

'What if you don't feel confident?' says my 16-year-old.

'Just pretend,' I say. 'Try it on for size. See if it suits you.'

Sometimes the act of smiling makes you feel happy. It's the same with confidence. Put on a show of knowing what you're doing, and suddenly you feel that you probably do.

Just know where to draw the line. No one wants to end up like Stuart Baggs.

Catch up on previous Surviving Teenagers columns here.

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