Teens have always struggled with self-worth but our world today is especially hard on them. When teens don’t feel good about themselves, they will often end up with self-destructive behaviours. Some of the more common forms of self-destruction are alcohol and drug addictions, eating disorders, self-injury, pornography, gambling and even suicide attempts.
It is extremely important that parents do their best to help their teens develop good self-esteem so they will feel valued and in control of what they do. Parents can do this by being a positive example and helping them in various ways. Here are some ideas:
- Spend quality time – sit and talk to them, eat with them, play games with them, go for a drive and chat, show them that you enjoy their company.
- Be interested in what they are interested in – ask them what they like doing and get involved in their activities.
- Use affection – give hugs, high fives, a pat on the back or shoulder.
- Notice when your teen does something right and say something positive.
- When your teen does something wrong, follow through with appropriate loving discipline.
- When they do a project or get a good grade, make a big deal out of it.
- Be supportive when they make a mistake and encourage them to try harder or do something different.
- Try not to criticize, instead use teachable moments to help them learn. Ask what you can do to support them.
- Be loving towards all family members as it really sets a good example.
- Listen when your teen wants to talk and only give advice when asked or when absolutely necessary.
- Define clear boundaries, responsibilities and consequences. When things are understood, they are easier to follow.
- Be reasonable with your expectations. We often expect way too much from our teens and they can’t meet these expectations.
- Try not to compare your teens with other people’s teens. We are all unique and different and should never have to be like someone else.
- Try to be positive even if you are feeling negative. This will help both you and your teen.
- Help them solve their own problems and allow them to face the consequences if they make a poor choice. Guide them but don’t rescue them if they fall.
- Learn about their friends. Be interested and ask questions.
- When you do something wrong, ask for forgiveness. Teens should never think their parents are perfect or they will feel they aren’t good enough and will constantly be trying to earn your love.
- Encourage them to follow their dreams. Help them use their abilities and talents wherever possible.
- Never tell your teen they are stupid or useless. We all know how it damages our esteem when someone speaks harshly to us.
- Don’t invade your teens privacy. Show respect for them and they will respect you and themselves.
It isn’t easy being a teen. You can probably remember how difficult those years were. Try really hard to help them build good esteem and they will become a responsible adult that you will admire and be proud of.