Developing self-esteem in teens is very important to their happiness and future success. Your teen is going through physical and emotional changes that he or she doesn’t understand. This makes the teenage years particularly turbulent. This sense of confusion often brings on self-doubt and lack of self-esteem.
As a parent, you have more influence over your teen than you realize. Your words, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on their opinions of themselves and will be remembered long after you say them.
How can you help develop self-esteem in your teen? The first thing to do is be generous with praise. In the day to day hustle and bustle of life, take the time to notice your teen doing something right. Get in the habit of praising your teen for doing a good job, whether it is helping around the house, excelling at academics or sports, or even just following your instructions, such as calling home when they’re going to be late. Their self-esteem will soar if you offer praise in front of other people. Remind them often of their strengths.
Another way of developing self-esteem in teens is to allow them to make their own mistakes. You can’t jump in and solve all their problems, and what you think is the right way to handle any given situation may not be the only solution. In fact, your solution may not be the right solution for the teen. One of the lessons we need to learn as parents is letting go. For teens, part of growing up is learning to make their own decisions and solve their own problems. This includes learning from their mistakes.
For teens, comparisons to others can be particularly damaging to their self-esteem. Television is full of models with perfect bodies. Movies often portray young people loaded with self confidence that always know the right thing to say and do. Looking around them at their peers, it may seem like everyone else has it all together. A teen’s self-esteem can be terribly damaged by believing any of this is realistic.
Comparisons with siblings can be equally damaging. Make sure you treat each child as an individual and recognize and praise the strengths each offers.
Help your teen not to take himself or herself too seriously. Learning to laugh at yourself is a quality that carries people through many difficult times in life.
Be sure to set an example of good self-esteem. Never criticize yourself in front of your children.
Above all, be there for your teen. Open lines of communication are very important in developing self-esteem in teens. Your child is going through difficult, confusing times. Knowing you are there to listen is more important than you know.