If there is one thing I remember about being a teenager, it’s that the teen years were tough! Peer-pressure, stereotypes, parental expectations, relationships, school stress, and the list goes on.
I have been working with teenagers for awhile now, and guess what… the times haven’t changed, the teen years are still really hard! With the vast accessibility of technology and the intense focus on social media, teenagers these days are facing more pressure and expectations than ever.
As parents, you want to see your children be happy, healthy, and successful. Self-esteem is really important, especially during the teenage years. Self-esteem is our ability to think strongly and highly of ourselves, our capabilities, and our worth. Simply put, more self-esteem = more success!
Without healthy levels of self-esteem, the likelihood of teens succeeding in their studies, hobbies, and day-to-day life is largely decreased. Healthy self-esteem can also prove to be beneficial in keeping depression, anxiety, and other common mental health challenges teens often face at bay.
Teens with healthy self-esteem have the following qualities:
· sound decision making skills
· leadership abilities
· can manage conflict
· can manage his/her own emotions
So how can you help your teen boost their self-esteem?
Here are 5 Tips for How To Boost Your Teen’s Self-Esteem:
1. Positive Affirmations: Teenagers thrive off of positive reinforcement. Hearing “you did great!” or “thanks for your help” goes a long way, even if they won’t admit it. Affirming your teenager that their efforts are noticed and that they are “enough” reduces the pressure they may feel to perform to the expectations of others. Use statements that highlight his/her specific behaviors, efforts, qualities, and strengths. For example, “this paper came together nicely”, “you’ve really gotten good at your jump shot”, or “that color shirt looks good with your eyes”.
Dr. John Gottman, a profound marriage therapist and researcher, developed a theory called “The 5:1 Ratio”. In short, he found that for every negative interaction someone receives from their partner, they need to receive 5 positive interactions in order to heal from the hurt received from the negative interaction. In my work with families and teens, I have found this study’s concepts to be useful when applied to teenagers as well. Teenagers can receive negative comments, interactions, and behaviors from peers on a daily basis. It is up to their support system to give positive interactions and affirmations to help them recover and build their self-esteem up when it might be threatened. A healthy ratio is 5:1-5 positive affirmations for every negative interaction.
2. Support: Creating a healthy, trustworthy relationship with your teenager is essential for them to feel safe, accepted, and loved. People of any age need to be supported. This is only enhanced as a teen. If he/she knows they have a supportive, dependable safety net of love and trust to fall back on, they are more likely to take chances, try new things, and find hobbies/interests they can excel at. Simple reminders such as “I’m here to listen if you need to talk”, “you can count on me”, “I’ll always be there for you” and “I trust you” can aid in building a supportive relationship.
3. Manage Expectations: In one of my past blogs, I wrote about “Smart Goals” and the importance of setting yourself up for success rather than failure. Making sure you are not putting unrealistic goals and expectations on your teenager will prevent them from feeling like they “failed” or “let you down”. Always make sure your expectations are “realistic” and “attainable” before communicating these expectations and goals to your teenager.
4. Communication: Talk to your teenager as an equal rather than someone who is “less than” you or knows less than you. It shows respect and will provide a more open relationship with honest, open communication. Teenagers are more likely to reach out for advice and help when they know they won’t be judged or criticized.
5. Boundaries: Open communication with your teen is essential. Teenagers need limitations, rules, and guidance to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Knowing where to draw the line in exploring and experimenting can keep them safe while expanding their horizons. Being consistent with your rules and boundaries is essential for your teen’s compliance.
Yes, we’ve established teenage years can be a tough time, but it can also be a thrilling time! They learn, grow, create, build, and thrive during this period. With a solid self-esteem foundation, your teenager can have some of the best and successful years. As parents, you can help your teen thrive with support, positive interactions, love, patience, and understanding. Remember, there is ALWAYS help when you need it!
If your teen is struggling with self-esteem, stress, anxiety, or any mental health concerns – call me today to schedule a session at 954-391-5305 ext 9.