by Adam Jacobs
4 Ways to Help Teenagers Build Their Self-Esteem
Having high self-esteem means that you are confident in your own abilities and value yourself. It is all about your attitude towards yourself and how you see your worth. Adolescence is a critical period in developing this. Unfortunately, it is during this period that teenagers experience a decreased level of self-esteem, particularly in two specific age ranges:
● At ages nine to 13 when they no longer find contentment in being treated as children;
● When they are confronted with the daunting future of being an adult upon reaching 18
to 23 years of age.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to help your child build her self-esteem, whatever career path she chooses to give her a fair shot at success. Aspiring teen models, for example, are taken on by teen modeling agencies once they confirm that the youngster feels good in her own skin and is able to make informed choices.
While achieving this seems like a tall order considering that there are other challenges that come with parenting teens, there are ways by which you can help your child build her self-esteem, as listed below:
1. Praise Effort Instead of the Result
Over the years, modern society has developed into one that puts too much weight on the
outcome of things. While this may offer teenagers a chance to gain self-confidence, this doesn’t do much for building self-esteem. In order to change this mentality, parents should focus on complimenting their children’s effort, no matter what the result may be. This means that rather than giving your teen a pat on the back for getting high grades in school, commend the effort she exerted in studying to achieve the recognition she receives. Remember that your teen can’t always get the outcome she expects, but she has full control over how much effort she exerts to achieve it. Commending her effort rather than what she gained from it gives her the impression that she is good enough no matter what the result is. It will also prevent her from thinking that she has value only when she succeeds in a task. Life is full of disappointments, and your teen should have healthy self-esteem to cope with the challenges that will come along the way.
2. Teach Her Self-Compassion
Sometimes, teenagers grow up to be much too self-critical for their own good. A person’s self-esteem is her valuation of herself which sometimes gets out of hand when her inner critic gets in the way to the point that she gets swayed from achieving her goals
For this very reason, it is important that adolescents are taught to be more self-
compassionate. If a teen is kinder to herself, she will inadvertently put value in herself plus she also gets to accept herself as she is, flaws and all.
3. Help Her Cope with Social Comparison
Comparison has always been a major motivator for both adults and children to do better in their tasks or as a person. However, the social comparison has been blown out of proportion to the point that teenagers are caught up comparing themselves to others and measure how much they’re worth based on the opinion of an invisible audience.
Sometimes, teens try to impress this imaginary audience which makes them feel like they will never be of any value if they don’t live up to a certain level of standard imposed by society. In most cases, social media even makes matters worse by quantifying how many “virtual people” “like” what is being posted.
Of course, social comparison was already a problem even before these online platforms were invented. In school, children are given “grades” which don’t necessarily reflect how well they overcome the inevitable mistakes and challenges that naturally come with the learning process. High school students are segregated according to certain intelligence measures, which is a lot like putting labels that aren’t entirely descriptive of who they truly are. While you may not be able to change what society has become, you can help your child build immunity to social comparison by:
● Focusing on her personal growth;
● Providing opportunities to address mistakes; and
● Acknowledging her every success no matter how small it may seem.
4. Be Her Role Model
Guiding teenagers to the right path means you have to lead by example. The same is true when building their self-esteem. Your child is more likely to learn from what you do rather than from what you tell her, so make sure that you settle your own self-esteem issues before focusing on hers.
As your teen’s role model, you should also have the courage to accept yourself as you are to help her feel more comfortable in her own skin. Once you do, talk to your teen about it and show her that you’ve turned out okay despite not being able to win all the awards you wanted or not fitting into categories people expected you to belong. The key is to teach her how to balance self-improvement and self-acceptance.
Raise a Confident Teen
Raising a teen is a challenging job, but you would do better if you start by helping her establish healthy self-esteem right away. Make sure she understands that her true worth cannot be measured by what others tell her and help her focus solely on building who she is as a person.
Adam Jacobs is the Managing Director of Bubblegum Casting, the longest-running agency specialising in babies, children and teen talent in Australia. Bubblegum Casting works with some of Australia’s biggest brands, media properties, and agencies to secure talented children to work in Television, Film and Modelling roles.