You and Your Teen: Self Esteem
Self esteem consists of our own personal view of who we are, developed over time by our successes and failures, positive and negative comments from others, our messages to ourselves and our interpretation of these via our thoughts and feelings. Some teens (and adults too!) appear very confident to others, but this does not always reflect what is felt inside. Self esteem is our inward picture of ourselves – either positive or negative.
Self esteem varies over time. During the teen years, self esteem, particularly in girls in the early and mid teens, may drop considerably. Girls are bombarded with pictures and images of female perfection and unrealistic thinness portrayed in magazines, videos and TV. Confidence-destroying images of perfection, surging hormones, the physical changes of puberty, together with social and emotional pressures form peer groups combine together to knock down self esteem.
Tips For Enhancing Self Esteem
While self esteem comes from within, parents, teachers and other family members can help to enhance positive self esteem. Here are a few ideas:
- Put critical messages on hold and take note of what your teen does well. Too often parents and other adults notice only what needs correction! Share positive messages (it must be genuine!) with your teen and build on his/her strengths and capabilities. Show that you have confidence in your teen.
- Encourage your teen to try -to learn something new, to try a new sport or activity. Involvement in several different sports or activities can provide alternate peer groups and more diverse friendships.
- Help teens learn to see problems as challenges which they can develop the skills to overcome. Encourage problem solving and provide your support. See You and Your Teen: Communication.
- Value your teen as an individual. Let him/her know that they are capable and loveable.
- Teens need love and affection. Find ways of showing affection - a hug, a shoulder massage or backrub. They need to hear that you love and care about them. Don’t assume that they know you love them.
- As an adult in their lives, demonstrate your own healthy self esteem.
Your teen is influenced by many people beyond the family unit. If your teen has developed positive self esteem he/she will more effectively cope with peer pressure, problems and challenges in the years ahead.