As a parent of teenagers, what are some ways I can make sure I’m instilling positive self-esteem in them?
Raising kids can be tough, let alone teenagers! From making sure they’re surrounding themselves with the right people, to simpler things like being sure they clean their room and eat their veggies—keeping teens on the right track is no easy task. Whether a boy or girl, teenagers are going to struggle with their self-image and self-esteem—vulnerability in the teenage years is almost unavoidable.
To help instill positivity and confidence in your teen and allow them to develop their best sense of self, here are a few tips that you might find helpful.
- Teens need role models. As a parent, there’s no doubt that your teen looks up to you (whether they admit it or not!). In addition to being a positive example for them, it’s important to surround them with other strong, intelligent and successful people from whom they can learn ways to develop healthy self-esteem.
- Choose your words wisely. Kids and teens pick up on the words and underlying attitudes of those around them, so be careful what you say! If you frequently criticize or judge public figures you might think your words aren’t hurting anyone. But in reality your teen is a sponge. If they hear you bashing a celebrity or colleague for being overweight or having bad skin, you may inadvertently, cause them to begin judging themselves for certain physical or emotional traits they possess—and come up on the short end of the stick.
- Demonstrate an open, understanding ear and heart. Just as it’s important to talk to your teen about their issues, successes, questions and concerns, it’s equally important to listen to them (and really HEAR them) as well. Talk with them, not at them. The more you’re willing to listen to their opinions and discuss their struggles, the more open they’ll be to sharing insecurities, problems and day-to-day interactions. You may be surprised with how open your teen is!
- Praise accomplishments, not physical attributes. Looks aren’t everything, so be careful not to comment on the way your teen looks all the time. Instead, talk about his or her intrinsic value as a person and accomplishments, successes or upcoming events—and be specific. Focusing more on external events and less on their physical appearance will help them develop a more confident self, with their best qualities embedded in their achievements rather than their looks. Having said that, it’s fine to comment, with a questioning attitude, on physical appearance when that’s appropriate and helpful to them.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic as well. Please continue to send us your questions, we love hearing from you!