I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

Helping teens build esteem

on February 5, 2013
teen against treeThe teen years are very difficult and many teens struggle with self-esteem and body image issues, while experiencing changes in their bodies.   This is the time when peer pressure can become overwhelming and teens start comparing themselves to others, looking at actors and models and wishing they had their ‘perfect‘ lives and ‘beautiful‘ bodies.    In their quest to find friendship and happiness, teens are led into a trap of deceit and false hopes.   Believing that their value is found in possessions, money and power, teens spend money on worthless stuff that may temporarily win some friends, but ultimately will lead to frustration and failure.
It isn’t realistic to measure ourselves against other people because we are all unique individuals and we can’t possibly be the same as somebody else.   It may surprise some people but even those superstars that we envy are also comparing themselves to other people, wishing they didn’t have any flaws and imperfections.  Studies have been done on models that show a large percentage of them have low esteem and feel very unfulfilled in life.  It is also a well-known fact that many movie stars lead very unhappy lives and don’t feel good about themselves.  So why do our young people want so much to be like these models and movie stars?  The answer is simple – they don’t have good esteem which causes them to look for happiness in all the wrong places.
People that have confidence in their abilities and strong self-esteem can handle life’s difficulties more effectively.  Children that feel secure in their home surrounded by love and appreciation will be better prepared to withstand the effects of negative peer pressure.  It is the responsibility of all parents to help their children develop good esteem as they grow up.  Here are some tips:
  1. Love unconditionally – Take a few minutes every day to tell your children how special they are to your family.  Hug them, send a card, write a note, tell them how much you love them.  NO, THEY DON’T JUST KNOW – you have to tell them and show them your love.
  2. Encourage and support – When something goes wrong in life, as it will, teens need to be reassured that you will support them no matter what.  Teens are very sensitive when they do something wrong or fail at something and they need to be encouraged to try again so they don’t give up on themselves.   Tell them that it is normal to make mistakes and they shouldn’t be discouraged.  Talk to them about famous people who have succeeded in life by learning from their mistakes.
  3. Be open-minded – Teens need to know that you are listening to them and that you are not going to judge everything they say.   Listen with an open mind even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.  Respect them and don’t try to control the conversation.  Be honest and keep the lines of communication open.    Teens want to talk to someone who is interested in hearing what they have to say, and if it isn’t you, it will be somebody else that may not have their best interests at heart.
  4. Choose your words carefully – What you say can influence people in a positive or negative way and you need to teach your teens the importance of communicating in a positive way.    Remember that once you say something, your words can’t be taken back.  Words can hurt and words can heal.  Words can stop wars and words can start wars.  So many relationships have been destroyed by just a few wrong words.
  5. Be honest – Talk openly with your teen about life and its challenges (smoking, drugs, alcohol, sex, eating disorders).   Talk to them about the false messages that are portrayed in the media and help them understand the truth about advertising.  Share some personal stories with your teen about your own life and the lessons you learned from your mistakes.  This helps them see you in a more realistic way.
  6. Be a good role model – Teens are always watching the adults around them to see what they say and do, so we need to be careful we are influencing them in a positive way.   Take a look at your own life and determine if you are the example that you want your child to follow.
  7. Compliment your teen! – Many parents negatively comment about what their child is wearing.   Unless, they are dressed in something provocative or totally unsuitable for the occasion, try to compliment them on how they look.  Remind them they are unique and that they are special.   Remind them of their good qualities and abilities.

One response to “Helping teens build esteem

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