Teen years are ROUGH! Puberty, new emotions, peer pressure, and awkward dating situations can really heighten our kids’ insecurities at a time when they are particularly vulnerable. With all the challenges that these young people may be facing, is it even possible for us as parents to help them develop good self-esteem? The answer is YES! Here are some important reasons for parents to help their teens cultivate a strong sense of self:
Teens with a Strong Self-Worth are More Likely to Pick Good Friends
When we show our children through our interactions with them how they deserve to be treated, they will naturally be drawn to others who are respectful and help build them up. From their teenage friendships to long-term love connections they’ll enter into later in their lives, these young people often use what they learned from their parents about their self-worth as a template for creating healthy relationships.
Teens With A Strong Self-Worth Are Able To Stand Up For Themselves
Young people who know that they are important and worthy of respect not only will be attracted to individuals who are good to them, they’ll also be able to stand up to those who would mistreat them. When they understand that their thoughts and feelings matter, they’ll risk the discomfort to stand up for themselves and for others.
Teens With a Strong Self-Worth Are Less Likely To Act Out
What may appear as self-destructive acts of rebellion (like drug use, risky sexual behavior, and bullying) are usually masking deep pain and discontentment of young people. Adolescents who know that they matter and are worthy of love won’t feel the need to engage in such behaviors in an attempt to “find themselves” or as a way to seek attention. Though no is immune from difficult emotional experiences, a teen having a clear sense of his/her self-worth is much less likely to act out.
A strong sense of self is invaluable for a teenager (and really for anyone!), but it doesn’t come overnight or without work. Thankfully, there are some actionable strategies that you as a parent can practice to help them develop it.
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
- Take your teen seriously- listen to their perspective as well as their feelings
- Teach self-compassion – no better way than starting with yourself!
- Say “I’m Sorry” when you make a mistake, yell, or act out (Yep! Even us parents have our moments!)
- Find a way to say “Thank you” or some way to show appreciation for your teen every day
- Don’t fix things for your teen! DO stand with them and help them come up with their own ideas and solutions to problems