Miroslava L. Pradella, LCSW, CASAC II
Therapist/Licensed Clinical Social Worker and School Social Worker
How to Boost Your Teen's Self-Esteem
Teens are stuck in an in-between world. They are still children but may demand independence. They're adjusting to both physical and mental changes, including emotional extremes caused by additional activity in the part of the brain that regulates emotions.
As parents and involved adults, it's our responsibility to help teens foster a healthy self-esteem. It's an ongoing process and there are no shortcuts. Teens need to hear positive messages and reinforcement about their positive qualities and that we are proud of them.
Follow these strategies every day to help you boost your teen's self-esteem:
1. Take the time to talk with your teen. While your teen may not want to talk to you, make sure they know that you are available if/when they are ready to share. Sometimes just knowing you're there for them makes a difference.
* Part of talking with a teen is actively listening. Teens with self-esteem issues often feel that no one listens to them or cares about what they have to say. Show them you're listening by letting them finish and then asking questions about what they said.
*Encourage them to stay active and get fresh air. When a teen eats a well balanced diet and gets a regular amount of exercise, it's easier for them to feel better about themselves.
3. Encourage your teen to get involved in an activity they enjoy. It could be any activity, club, or organization. Getting them involved in something will help them find peers that they can relate to and build positive and supportive relationships.
* Encourage their individuality and interests by letting them pick the activity. Give them the freedom to express themselves by getting involved in their own interests and passions.
4. Set a positive example for your teen. No matter how distant your teen may seem, they still model your behaviors closely. If they see you have a self-esteem issue, they may mimic that. Set an example with a positive attitude towards yourself and others.
5. Help your teen set goals and celebrate when they reach them. Start with small goals that they can achieve in a short period of time. When they reach the goal, celebrate with them. If it takes longer to reach their goal, keep encouraging them.
* Show them that taking action to achieve their goal is just as important as reaching the goal.
* Let your teen know that it is okay to change their goal along the way. This is the way of life and an important skill teens need to learn. When circumstances change, we may need to learn to be flexible and adjust to a new routine.
6. Encourage them to do their best and be proud of them.
A teen's self-esteem can be instrumental to their achievements. They may be more inclined to try new things if they are secure about their self esteem and not worried about being judged.
Teach your teen that learning to deal with disappointment, criticism, and challenges is an important life skill. Talk to your teen about how important it is to know they're still a great person worthy of love and affection, no matter what life may throw their way.
As with anyone, teens will have good and bad days. Follow these strategies and soon enough, you'll know when you are on the right path. Your teen will go through mood swings; but with time and love, they can become strong and confident adults.
Blog post TheraBlog.