Raising Teenagers-Part 3: Self-Esteem
A teenager with good self-esteem will be better prepared to take healthy risks in life, try new things, and have better problem solving skills. It gives them a solid foundation for their learning and development and will set them up for a healthy and positive future.
Most parents are very influential on their child’s self-esteem as they are growing up, often without even thinking about it or trying. It can be affected in a negative way by criticism or neglect from their parents, carers or others that play an influential role in their life, such as a grandparent, negative peers or friends, stressful life events such as divorce or relocation, trauma or abuse, poor performance at school or unrealistic goals, mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, bullying or loneliness, or ongoing medical issues.
There are things you can do to support your child to have positive self-esteem, but it’s also important to remember that self-esteem develops and changes overtime. If your child doesn’t show signs of positive self-esteem immediately, it doesn’t always mean you’re doing something wrong.
Here are some things you can do to help build your child’s self-esteem:
- When you feel good about the your child and what she is doing, make sure to mention this to her. She will remember these positive statements and it will echo in her mind when she is feeling down. Remind her not to discount the compliments. Sometimes when self-esteem is low, it can be difficult to accept praise or when someone says something positive about you. Teach her not to brush it off, but to accept the compliment, absorb it, and appreciate it.
- Teach her how to make positive statements about herself. Mindset is powerful, and positive thoughts can help determine how she feels and behaves.
- Recognize when she’s made a good decision help her revisit ones she’s made that weren’t so good to see how she can improve next time. Show her how to view mistakes as learning opportunities.
- Spend quality time with her and LISTEN. Ask her opinion on things, and even some family decisions. She wants to be treated like a grownup and implement some of her suggestions when appropriate. For example, maybe she can help you decide what new piece of furniture will look best in the house.
- Find a hobby or sport that she loves. Everyone needs to excel at something. Make sure you support her in whatever she chooses, as long as it doesn’t interfere with academics. Be aware that she may be fickle and change her mind several times, so don’t buy the most expensive saxophone out there just yet.
- Encourage and support community service in some way. My girls have always enjoyed working with the youth group at our church. Giving back to the community is a great way for anyone to feel good about herself.
- Keep your criticism as constructive as possible. Instead of demeaning her when she makes a mistake or has a bad test grade, talk to her about how she can improve next time.
- Mirror positive self-esteem and what it looks like. Help her recognize what she can and cannot change. Obsessing about our “flaws” can really skew your opinion of yourself and bring down your self-esteem.
If you notice signs of low self-esteem in your child, you can begin to address them and help them work to improve their outlook. For teens, self-esteem often comes from knowing that they are loved and that they belong to a family that values them. It also comes from being praised and encouraged for the things that are important to them, and from feeling confident about the future.
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