One of the best protections which your teen can have against bullying, negative peer pressure and adversity in life is a strong sense of self-esteem. Self-esteem happens when you feel confident in your self-worth, when you believe you have the abilities to manage any situation and when you have a strong sense of self-respect.
Here are 7 ways in which you can nurture and help your teen develop a positive sense of self-esteem
1. Praise Often and with Sincerity
Don’t underestimate the impact of telling your children that you love them, are proud of them and appreciate having them in your life. Kids live so much in the moment that they can forget your positive words within each day, and we need to constantly reinforce our messages of love and encouragement in order for them to become a part of their DNA.
2. Give Constructive Correction
Yes, it is important to correct your kids when they stray and need to guided back to their values, however you should try to do this in a constructive and positive way. Avoid harsh criticisms and demeaning comments. Instead be specific when you see a problem and present change as an opportunity.
One example might be that instead of saying “how could you get this result in your test?” you could say “You did quite well in your test, if you had managed to complete this question, you could have obtained a better grade. What do you think you need in order to do better next time?”
3. Set Clear Guidelines and Explain Them
Guidelines and rules exist because although your teens are growing up fast and striving for independence, they still don’t have the maturity or experience to make the best decisions. However, it helps if you sit down and explain the rationale behind each of the guidelines which you would like them to adhere to. Doing this shows that you respect their views and that you aren’t setting up rules just to control or dominate them.
4. Encourage Decision Making, Opinions and Responsibility
Part of your teens’ ability to feel good about themselves lies in their confidence in having the skills to handle unexpected or challenging situations. Allow your children to participate in family decisions and to think through their issues with you. Allow them to make decisions; acknowledge their successes, and let them take responsibility for when things go wrong.
If you teens don’t have the chance to practice these skills whilst they are growing up, they will always feel defensive, uncertain and afraid of facing situations on their own.
5. Support Their Interests
Encourage your teens to explore their interests and passions. Understand that it might take them some time to figure out what they really love and where they fit in best. Extra-curricular activities give teens a unique chance to find a positive social circle and to be praised and valued beyond the family circle. When this happens, their sense of self-esteem is further reinforced by the appreciation they receive from peers and other adults.
6. Be There to Talk Things Through
Know that there will always be issues which your teen will face and that sometimes, all they need is to have a supportive, loving parent who is willing to listen to them, take their side and allow them to talk through their problems until they can find a solution. Remember that your role here is to be their coach, not their stand-in. So guide them gently and allow them to discover the solution themselves.
7. Stay Connected
Make time to be with your teens. When you do so, you strengthen the bond you have and you make it easier for them to come to you when they do have issues. In addition to having regular “together” time, reach out to them in other ways. Send a text to give them encouragement and connect on whatever platforms they enjoy using the most.