By Francis Van de Beuken
Blue Fire Wilderness
Building self esteem in teens begins at home. Only too many parents find themselves in a situation where they believe “tough love” strengthens their child’s spirit. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. In many ways, a child is a reflection of the parent. While a child builds their personality, they are affected by outside factors: their peers, their environment, the media. But the strongest influence of all comes from the people they live with – the parents. A parent is a role model – and if the child believes that the parent doesn’t find them up to standards, they can be devastated.
In a similar manner, if a parent is distant (working long hours, for instance), a child may take it personally. Self esteem in teens is a volatile thing and it’s far from rare: for example, some 70% of girls believe themselves to not measure up to standards in some way. Not only are issues with self esteem in teens extremely common, but they can potentially be very harmful. For some, it can take the shape of an eating disorder. For others, it can cause anxiety and stress which, in turn, can lead to a decrease in school performance.
Low self esteem can lead to feeling unsatisfied or make a teen turn toward substance use. If the issue is not addressed, it can quickly spiral out of control and harm your teen’s future.
Promoting Self Esteem in Teens
As a parent, there are several ways you can help build self-esteem in teens. The first step to keep in mind is that, while the process may take some time, your teen will come out stronger and happier than ever before. Since the parent is the dominant force in their child’s life, they have the most power to encourage their teen to build self-esteem.
Some of the tips to help promote self esteem in teens include:
- Praise, praise, praise. Many parents only notice their child’s missteps, which can make them feel unaccomplished. When your teen does something well, let them know you’re proud of them!
- Play to their passions. Another common mistake committed by parents is expecting their child to be a carbon copy of themselves – or an image that the parents have created. Reality can be quite different, though. Your child is a person with their own wants and needs. Supporting their desires – such as joining an art club or playing a sport – can make them feel better all around.
- Be constructive. Everybody has bad days and criticism doesn’t help. If your child does something wrong, help them avoid the mistake for next time rather than blaming them for failing. Instead of chastising your child for a bad grade, help them study for the next test.
- Ask your teen’s opinion. There’s nothing teens hate more than being told what to do. While some things – such as going to school – are non-negotiable, others can be discussed. Letting your teen in helps them be more in control: an important step on the journey to strengthening self-esteem in teens.