Teenage self-esteem problems are a natural side effect of the passage from youth to adulthood, but some teenagers are completely overwhelmed. The fragility at this age can often be traced to outside influence in early childhood in the form of teasing or bullying.
School bullies can exacerbate a self-esteem problem in a heartbeat. Try to deal with bullying firmly and plainly, and remember that there is no shame in reporting bullies - if they are doing it to your child, they are probably doing it to someone else’s kid too.
Encourage your teen to talk about their problems, and make sure to really listen to the answers. A “I don’t want to try out for the debate club” could mean “I’m probably too stupid for the debate club”. Negative thoughts can be coloring your teen’s perception of their entire life!
If you constantly say negative things to your child, such as “You are so stupid”, “You can’t do anything right”, or “What’s wrong with you?” you may need to take a step back and evaluate the damage you are doing! The same goes for any other adult in their life.
If constant put-downs are all teens hear, their self-esteem will plummet and they could get locked into a viciously repeating cycle that could last years. If a child is made to feel worthless or stupid, pretty soon they may come to believe that they are valueless and then the real problems begin. Teenagers with low self-esteem often begin to participate in self destructive acts. They may drive recklessly, drink or smoke, indulge in high risk sexual activity or even do themselves physical harm. You need to be on the lookout for early warning signs, and get them help before such dangerous behavior spirals out of control.
Pinpointing the subtle hints of teenage self-esteem issues is what makes parenting a teen so hard. When a teenager becomes suddenly withdrawn, starts failing in school or doesn’t want to go out in public, you might want to do a little checking as to the real reason why.
Sudden weight loss or gain is often a sign of low teenage self-esteem. Many eating disorders originate from a poor self image or self confidence issues. If you can head these off before they become entrenched, you will have a chance to help your teen regain their self-esteem and nip potentially threatening health problems in the bud.
Helping your teen combat self-esteem issues can take time. The best thing you can do is encourage them in all areas of their life. Get involved with them, and show you care. Make sure to praise them and let them know their thoughts and feelings matter.
A good way to get your teen to talk to you about their life is to share a story from your own teenage years. Make some special time for the two of you - go shopping together, or ask them for advice or help with a project. If you show an interest in your child, they will feel interesting - if you ask for their help they will feel useful.
Hopefully your teen will be able to weather the rocky years between childhood and adulthood without suffering teenage self-esteem problems, but if they run into trouble at least you will be there to help the through it!
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