How to Help Teens Get Over Their Fear of Success

Fear is something everyone lives with. Many fears are typical, such as a fear of snakes or spiders or being mugged on a dark street in the middle of the night. Your teen might fear these things, among others. However, your teen might also fear something you see as ridiculous or even confounding -- she might fear success. This is not an uncommon fear. As defined by, fear of success is your teen’s feeling the need to refrain from successful endeavors based on her fear of potential negative consequences. It’s not as uncommon as you might think, but it’s a fear you need to help your teen overcome.

Talk to your teen about fear, advises the Kids Health website. It’s an emotion that is ingrained in all people from the time they are born. What fear does is send her body and mind into protective mode. Her fear kicks in when her instincts detect that she is unsafe or in danger, and she automatically begins to feel fear, which helps her to deal with what she perceives as dangerous or unsafe. It’s a normal emotion that everyone experiences. Understanding what fear is, is an important part of learning to overcome it.

Help your teen recognize her pattern of self-destruction when it comes to success. According to Donnah Canavan, author and psychology professor at Boston College, if your teen wants to overcome her fear of success, she needs to first realize that she suffers from this fear, as many people do not realize they experience it at all. Provide her with examples of times she’s self-destructed when she could have been successful. For example, perhaps she swung at a pitch that was so high off the plate that even a giant couldn’t have reached it, or maybe she worked really hard to get into an Ivy League college and didn’t send in her application in time, even though she knew about the deadline for months. When you present these facts to your teen, it helps her realize that she has a problem.

Ask your teen why she’s afraid of being good at things and succeeding, advises Canavan. When she’s forced to look at herself for the answer to that question, she might have an “ah-ha” moment. For example, perhaps she will realize that she’s afraid that she’s not going to be as good at college work as she is at high school work and she will fail, causing you to be disappointed in her.

Remind your teen that success is something she shouldn’t fear and that she also shouldn’t fear the failure that comes along with it, advises 2. Failure might be a driving force behind your teen’s fear of success. For example, she might fear success because she feels that she might fail at achieving success. When you remind her that with success comes failure, and that with failure comes knowledge and education, you are reminding her that success does not equal perfection 23. Every failure she endures will teach her a lesson and make her even more successful. Every failure is one step closer to success.