Life can be really hard these days for a teenager’s self-esteem. They face a constant barrage of stereotype and image reinforcement – and as a child on the cusp of becoming an adult, figuring out what voices to listen to and how to view yourself is an undeniable challenge.
At Given Guidance Family Counseling in La Crescenta, California, we deeply understand the challenges that teenagers and their parents are facing. Teenagers are at a critical stage in their lives where they’re developing their sense of identity, building relationships, and facing various pressures from peers and society.
These pressures can make it difficult for teens to have a balanced view of themselves, not to mention presenting unique challenges for parents to support their teenagers in maintaining healthy self-esteem.
Here are five simple things you can start doing today to help build your teenager’s self-esteem:
Encourage their strengths
As a parent, you are in a unique position to help your teenager identify their strengths and encourage them to develop those skills. After all, not only do you love and care about your child, you also have life experience that they can benefit from. When a teenager feels competent and capable, it can make a significant difference to their self-esteem. Help them find activities that they enjoy and excel at, and offer support and encouragement to help them pursue those passions. For example, if your teenager enjoys playing the guitar, you can encourage them to take lessons, perform in front of family and friends, or even write their own music. And make sure to cheer them on when they make the effort!
Create a safe and supportive home environment
Adolescents need to feel safe and supported to really thrive. As a parent, you can create a safe space for your teenager by readily making emotional support available, setting clear boundaries, and fostering open communication. When a teenager feels heard and understood, this alone can help them develop a sense of self-worth and confidence.
Avoid criticism and focus on positive feedback
While everyone needs constructive feedback from time to time, it’s important to avoid constantly criticizing your teenager and pointing out their mistakes. Instead, focus on giving them positive feedback when they make an effort or do well at something. Teenagers are going through significant changes in their lives and may be more sensitive to criticism, which can alienate you from them. Instead of focusing on what they’re doing wrong, focus on what they’re doing well. Provide specific feedback for their actions, and offer specific praise for their efforts and accomplishments.
Help them build healthy relationships
Social relationships play a significant role in a teenager’s life – for better or worse. Help your teenager identify individuals who genuinely care about them, have a balanced view of themselves, and will help them grow and thrive as they move into adulthood. Help them build healthy relationships by encouraging them to take part in social activities and events, and offering guidance on how to navigate friendships and romantic relationships. Positive relationships can provide a sense of belonging and validation, which can help boost self-esteem.
Encourage self-care practices for your teenager’s self-esteem
Encourage your teenager to take care of their physical and mental well-being. This could include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and staying physically active. When teenagers take care of their bodies and minds, this can have a significant, positive impact on their mental health and self-esteem. Suggest activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as yoga, meditation, or reading, and set the example by doing some of these things yourself too.
Building and maintaining healthy self-esteem is a life-long journey that requires patience, support, and understanding. As a parent, you play a critical role in helping your teenager know what a healthy self-image looks like, and how to develop healthy self-esteem. These skills will last them a lifetime! Their self-esteem won’t just be challenged by their teenage years – we all know how life events can take us by surprise and challenge us mentally and emotionally.
By encouraging, commending, supporting, and educating your teenager, you can help them feel more confident and capable as they move towards adulthood. It takes time, but building their self-esteem can be hugely rewarding for your teenager, and for you as a parent.
If you feel like you could do with some extra support for you or your teenager in navigating this difficult period, reach out today for support from Given Guidance Family Counseling. Our caring, experienced team of therapists would love to support you!