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Speak Up! Stand Out!

July 17, 20234 min read

Without the confidence that comes naturally from practicing confident speech, our children are at risk.

Speak Up! Stand Out! Shine Bright!

These are all terrifying things for teens who feel the fear of rejection from peers. It's terrifying enough when you are an adult and you know where you fit in this world (at least most of the time).

Why Confidence in Speech Matters

Confidence in speech is an important part of making it through the teen years (We've all been there! They are tough!) Teens who are confident in their speaking are: 1. Less likely to be bullied, harassed or assaulted

2. More likely to make positive peer and adult connections that will help steer their lives

3. More able to do other hard things and face their fears in other areas of their lives.

As they become adults, confidence in body language and speech will:

  1. Bring Success in professions: public speaking skills are highly sought after in the professional world and even if you don't see public speaking in their professional life theys till need to pitch an idea, engage in meetings and be able to be confident in their workplace to stand out among peers.

  2. Bring Leadership Opportunities - professionally or personally, people who can speak confidently have more impact on the world! These are the change makers!

Why Students are Afraid to Speak Out

1. Fear of others - what will they think?

2. Fear of being wrong or failing - what if I'm wrong?

3. Not knowing what they think or why

Don't Let Your Shy Teen Off the Hook!

But my teen is shy! I can't make them something they're not! No? Let me tell you a story.

Yes - that's me... yes it was the late 70's!

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was 6 years of age, my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and I felt sick. My dad helped me carry my much too heavy guitar onto the stage where I plucked out a simple song during the offering. Years later, as a teen, I'd been pushed onto the stage so many times that despite my nerves, and fears - despite my apprehensions and social anxieties, teen hormones and depression, I stood once again as I did 4-5 times a year to sing a solo or duet with a friend. I hated it - in the moment, but when it was done I felt better.

Looking back I know I was afraid, but that those experiences made me a different person. I had grown accustomed to standing first in front of a handful of family friends, then in front of eventually a large group of a few hundreds. Since then I have addressed multiple hundreds at a time. I still get nervous, but the liberation it brings to know I can do it is empowering. Your shy student Needs to have speaking confidence even MORE than their outgoing peer to whom it may happen easily. The stakes are high in life. What are the Stakes? Who Cares if My Child Doesn't Ever Learn This?

Imagine for a moment - you won't have to try too hard - that your child is being addressed by another adult, or a peer they respect. Imagine they are being told why they are absolutely ignorant for holding the beliefs they have. (I told you it wouldn't be hard). How likely will your not confident child be to counter the argument? To ask the hard questions of the other person? How likely will it be that your not speech confident child will harbour those ideas and rethink them? Perhaps begin to agree?

Without the confidence that comes naturally from practicing confident speech, our children are at risk.

How Can You Inspire Speech Confidence in Your Preteen and Teen?

Practice - Practice - Practice! From early childhood have them:

-order in a restaurant for themselves -answer the phone -ask questions at the doctor

The important thing is for them to practice acting as an equal to someone older and in authority.

As Pre-Teens and Teens have them:

-make appointments for themselves

-advocate for themselves with teachers and leaders (you can practice with them)

-include them in adult conversations with friends about hot topics in the news or media and demonstrate how to respectfully disagree or ask questions to further understand - ask them their opinion - then STOP - and ask them why.

-expect that they will tell you why they think or feel a certain way, or want to do something, or have a curfew changed. Allow them to advocate for their ideas (and maybe even change your mind sometimes!)

Speech Confidence Matters and the middle-school and high-school years are the time to branch out!

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