Teens can suffer from low self-esteem for a variety of reasons. It may be due in part to the high value they place on appearance, conformity, and talent. These days, fame is greatly sought after and can seemingly be achieved in the blink of an eye – it may look too easy, giving teens the impression that something must be wrong with them if they haven’t achieved this kind of recognition.
There are all kinds of other reasons, too. Therefore, boosting your teen’s self-esteem is important, but there are some ways that may work better than others. Here are some tips.
It’s easy to give vague praise, like “You are so helpful,” but that can be easy to pass over and forget. Instead, cite an example of a time your teen was helpful/smart/attractive with statements like, “Thank you for helping me carry in the groceries! That was so helpful,” or, “It really showed how compassionate you are when you helped find a home for that stray cat.” This involves a certain amount of vigilance on the part of the parent – keep your eyes and ears open for chances to compliment specific character traits.
Describe Success in Detail
Telling your teen he did “a good job on that test” or that she “did well on her research paper” is okay, but go the extra step and describe how your teen did well on the test or paper. Tell him what, specifically, was good about the test – “Your essay answers were well-written, and it’s obvious you have a command of this subject.” Tell your teen that her research paper shows she has an in-depth understanding of her subject, and specifically highlight something about it – “The way you discussed the subject matter shows you really thought this through. You are a deep thinker.”
Give Them Tasks
Even though they may complain, the value of a job well done still holds true. Teens tend to feel more confident when they accomplish something of worth that they know helps out. If it’s not something around the house, see if you can find something for them to do in the community, such as participate in a neighborhood clean-up day or walking a sick neighbor’s dog.
Be Careful What You Say
Do you have a memory of something negative your mom or dad said when you were a teen that you will never forget? Negative comments have a way of haunting us, and no amount of positive comments can seem to undo that. So think before you speak; a trite comment could really have an impact on your teen.
Also, if you tend to verbalize criticism of others, keep that in check. Your teen will hear that critical way of looking at the world, and he or she may well apply those criticisms to him or herself, or to others. If you know you’ve said something that may have hurt, ask your teen if you hurt him or her, and don’t be afraid to apologize. No one is perfect in their words, but saying you’re sorry can help your teen let it go.