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15 Ways to Help Turn Your Teen Wallflower Into a Leader

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Is your teen one of the shy ones? There’s nothing inherently wrong with being introverted. In fact it can be a strength, but the teen years are already a time when kids tend to become much more self-conscious as they are developing their own identities. A 2011 National Institute of Mental Health study reported that about 50% of teens identify themselves as shy. Helping your teen overcome shyness through leadership development can help them feel less social anxiety and academic stress. Learn to appreciate the good characteristics that go along with shyness and remember that some of today’s biggest influencers started out as shy teenagers.

In a 2013 Vogue interview, CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer described herself as painfully shy and said she has had to discipline herself to overcome it. Ruth A. Peters Ph.D. says, “Often, shy children become excellent observers of people and situations, and therefore tend to be sensitive, caring, compassionate—with the uncanny ability to understand others’ feelings. So, respect your child’s nature as you work to help him or her to feel more comfortable in social situations.” We’re taking her advice to heart and have come up with 15 leadership development ideas to help turn your teen wallflower into a leader in a gentle, respectful way.

1. Get Teachers Involved


Marissa Mayer says her teachers helped her tremendously as she became the leader she is today. Talk to your teen’s teachers and strategize with them about how to best help your child.

2. Take It Slow

Forcing your teen to host a huge party or perform a monologue in front of the whole school will just be traumatic. For lasting leadership development, start small and work your way up.

3. Take a Class


Find an extracurricular class your teen will enjoy and get him or her signed up. Something like public speaking, improv, drama or joining the debate team will help your teen feel more comfortable in social situations.

4. Model Confidence

Kids tend to mirror what they see from adults they trust and admire. With that in mind, be a confident leader at home and work so your teen is surrounded by self assurance.

5. Prepare


It might sound like a cliché, but you can act out or role-play social situations with your teen to help him or her feel more at ease in different circumstances. Rehearse together and go over potential scenarios so that your child feels prepared.

6. Mentor

Mentors are not just for college kids and entry-level worker bees. A mentor can provide guidance and build confidence at any age. MENTOR has online resources for teens or consider asking a family friend or teacher who your teen admires.

8. Empathy & Faking It

Hands of a girl leading in prayer posture

An introvert can’t, and shouldn’t, be forced to become an extrovert. That said, your teen can learn to fake it when necessary. Respect your teen by allowing the alone time they need but help them to find ways to act extroverted when neccessary.

8. Ban Bossy

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of the Girl Scouts and Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State, launched a Ban Bossy, a public service campaign encouraging girls to be leaders by banning the word bossy in favor of more positive terminology. Inspire your daughters with their ideals.

9. Wilderness Leadership Expedition

Guys at leader meeting photo posing happy

Chewonki, in Wiscasset, Maine, offers teen wilderness and leadership expeditions that teach wilderness skills, environmental awareness and how to create sustainable communities.

10. Teach Social Skills

Some kids need more help developing social skills than others. It’s never to late to teach your teen how to make new friends and how to be comfortable and confident in a variety of social situations.

11. Positive Reinforcement

A teenage girl making leader notes

Leadership development begins with instilling self-confidence. Positive reinforcement and recognizing your teen’s talents and achievements builds healthy self-esteem, which translates into social confidence. Everybody wins.

12. Social Media

Social media has been associated with cyber-bullying so it tends to have a bad reputation among parents. For introverts though, social media can be a fantastic way for teens to connect and build relationships that can often translate into real friendships in the real world.

13. Blog About It


Encourage your teen to start writing a blog. By publishing their thoughts and feelings on the Internet, rather than writing privately in a journal, they’ll find their voice while building an audience and make connections with other like-minded teens. Be sure to monitor the blog and the comments though…and talk to your teen about the fact that haters that are everywhere.

14. Find a Passion

Developing leaders requires passion and passion often trumps shyness. If your teen can find a hobby or activity that is so fascinating and engrossing that they can’t help trying to share it with others, they’ll exude confidence.

15. National Teen Leadership Program (NTLP)


The National Teen Leadership Program, located in Texas and California, offers a 3-day leadership camp and one-day seminars for developing leaders in grades 9-12. Your teen will make friends, learn a lot and gain incredible skills that will serve him or her forever.

The post 15 tips to help your shy teenager become a leader appeared first on Hispanic World.

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