As parents, we want our teenagers to be confident and have high self-esteem. But are confidence and self-esteem the same things?
Self-esteem refers to how a person feels overall about himself. It is how a person perceives his worth based on their purpose in life, achievements, ability to take a stand, and more.
The concept is related to self-confidence only that the former does not change regardless of the situation.
A person may have high self-esteem but low self-confidence on certain topics. On the contrary, a person may appear confident on the outside but is struggling with poor self-esteem.
Why building self-esteem is important for young people?
Teenage years can be a difficult phase. Teens are faced with huge expectations from their families and peers, putting so much pressure on themselves. With healthy self-esteem, your teen should be able to handle these social pressures effectively.
Alternatively, low self-esteem can have a tremendous negative impact on their mood, body image, relationships, eating habits, motivation, and even alcohol or drug use.
How to Help a Teenager Build Self-Esteem
Here are six ways parents can help teenagers build up their self-esteem.
1. Let them make their own choices
Teenagers enjoy freedom. However, without parental guidance, this freedom could lead to irresponsibility and poor decisions.
Allow your teens to make their own choices within reasonable boundaries. Explain why such boundaries are important in teaching them the value of making well thought-through decisions.
2. Ask for their opinion
The adolescent stage is a sensitive phase for most. Some teens crave attention, while some do not want to share the limelight. One thing is certain though ‒ they have a high concern for their appearance and reputation.
Asking them for opinions on certain topics builds their confidence. It makes them feel important and valued. On the flip side, they love hearing pieces of advice from people they trust the most.
Hearing their thoughts is an opportunity for you to strengthen your parent-child bond while boosting your teenager’s self-esteem.
Set a time to work on journals for teens so your child can freely express their insights in writing. Journaling is also an effective way to communicate with your teen especially if he/she is not comfortable talking to you face to face.
3. Acknowledge their best side
It’s important to take time and truly understand who your teen is becoming. What is their character-shaping into? What good qualities can you notice in them?
When we start paying attention, we can recognize and notice something they did right, the time when they showed kindness or compassion for someone or the time when they were considerate and polite.
When we acknowledge their kind, compassionate, fun side, we help them see the best in themselves and their self-esteem grows.
4. Give them responsibilities
Responsibility and accountability should start at a young age. Teenagers should have a clear sense of what is expected of them but not so much that they cannot live up to the expectations.
Start giving them age-appropriate responsibilities such as taking care of a younger sibling, segregating the trash, or looking after the dog.
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5. Avoid comparison with others
A common pitfall among parents is comparing their child to other kids.
There are two ways parents compare their children without knowing it. The first one is when they implicitly say one child is better (stronger, smarter, faster, etc.) than others. The second is when they don’t acknowledge the shortcomings and say euphemisms.
Comparison, whether intentional or not, is detrimental to one’s self-esteem. It makes the child feel inadequate or competitive.
These points of comparison tend to stay on the psyche for long periods of time unless it is corrected. Over time, the person who has been compared frequently grows insecure.
6. Don’t be too hard on them
It is common for parents to comment negatively when their child misbehaves. In relation to this, being overcritical hurts their perception of their innate goodness and self-worth.
That’s why it is important to practice constructive criticism delivered together with unconditional love.
Your child’s self-perception is too fragile since they have not developed a solid understanding of who they are. So instead of dwelling on your child’s personality, focus on correcting the actions.
Do not let emotions govern your discipline. Focus on positive reinforcement to correct negative behaviors while still building your child’s self-esteem.
Building self-esteem is challenging during the teenage years.
Help your child overcome feelings of insecurity and inadequacy by practicing positive reinforcement. Focus on correcting the actions instead of criticizing your child’s character or personality.
This way, you are not only building his self-confidence but also creating a trusting relationship.