Part of the process of being a teenager is going down the often difficult path of self-discovery. As a parent, you can help guide your teen on how to value and appreciate themselves. You can teach them to trust their own worth, especially when faced with the temptation of comparing themselves to others. Here are some ways you can help your teen have healthy self-esteem.
Instead of comparing or binding themselves to others…
One of the most significant pressures your teen will face is from their peers. They will often be tempted to stack up their accomplishments against others or to filter their thoughts and perspectives through the perceptions of others.
Try nurturing their individual gifts and ideas.
You can help your teen break away from these unhealthy comparisons by helping them realize and appreciate their own unique set of skills, gifts and abilities. Help them to understand that not everyone has the same strengths—which is okay!—while also expressing that their self-worth isn’t tied up in their performance or success.
In the same way, help your teen to understand that their own thoughts and opinions are valuable. While it might be easy for your teen to be swayed by others, support your teen when they stand up for themselves or think differently than their peers.
Instead of being overly critical…
Sometimes, as a parent, it’s easy to be critical of your teen’s actions. Unfortunately, this can damage their self-esteem, particularly if they don’t know how to take positive steps forward instead.
Try giving constructive feedback.
Alternatively, you can give your teen constructive feedback to point them in the direction of a positive action. For example, instead of chastising your teen about their tone of voice, give concrete examples of how they can be more polite and point to times when you appreciated that they did this. This helps your teen know they have the potential to grow, rather than feeling like they can only do wrong. It also demonstrates that you’re on their side which helps them to feel supported.
Instead of discouraging them from taking on challenges…
It can be difficult to take risks as a teen, particularly when you’re unsure of the outcome. This insecurity is only magnified when peers are watching you or even competing with you! As a parent, it might be tempting to protect your teen or present them with their limitations in a seemingly realistic way.
Try helping your teen set small, manageable goals.
Instead, you can help your teen set small, manageable goals that are attainable for them. This helps build their self-esteem, teaches them how to face challenges and gives them milestones to celebrate. It can be scary to try something new when you believe that your peers are superior to you but show your teen that they have potential as well, even if they don’t immediately see it.
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