“I don’t want to act like I’m too cocky.” This is why teens tell me they down play their strengths: grades, accomplishments like scholarships, awards, super duper wins in sports, weight loss or anything. They just don’t want to come off as cocky. They know some girl or guy who is cocky and they’re soooo annoying. These teens don’t know the difference between cocky and confident.

Cocky people are so annoying they’re arrogant and use their expertise to make people feel bad. They frequently have low self-esteem and improve their standing by making others feel like they know nothing. They make really bad teachers because no one wants to ask them a question and risk feeling bad when they already feel terrible about having to learn something new. It’s a humbling experience to ask for help and no one wants to ask for help when they have to endure humiliation too. This was the reason Janet Jackson gave for hating school, “I would be at the chalkboard and the teacher would make me stay up there until I got the answer and that was so awful. I’d be up there by myself.” A brilliant person who is cocky might as well stay home no one wants to approach them for help. No one wants to date this person because they’re always asking things like, “You don’t know that?” This person makes a bad parent because instead of nurturing their teen’s self esteem, curiosity and confidence to be daring they squash it with the air of required perfectionism and instilled inadequacy, and ultimately, raise someone with poor self-esteem like them.

We need confident people. People with low self-esteem make poor leaders because they’re so concerned with being liked that they don’t make decisions based on facts and expertise, but confident people know what they know and believe in themselves enough to make even tough decisions and more importantly they know what they don’t know and don’t mind asking questions. They don’t mind being humble because they know they win when others are the best they can be. They don’t sell themselves short because they know they do more good when they elevate those around them by setting a high standard. They inspire others who work with them. They make an amazing date because they are prepared and this comes off as thoughtful. They make amazing parents because they know their job is to nurture their teen’s talent rather than live vicariously through them.

The next time your teen undersells their achievements remind them that it does not help anyone when they act smaller than they actually are. Their confidence is required to have the courage to meet their goals because without their voice the cocky people win.