Self-esteem is never more fragile than during the teen years. Young people are managing changes in their bodies and emotions. They are finding their way in new kinds of relationships. Self-esteem is important because it protects the child from the normal ups and downs of adolescence. When a teen feels good about himself, he is less likely to suffer long-term depression, and is more like to bounce back from disappointment. He has confidence to try new things and set goals for the future. By definition, self-esteem rises from within the teen. But there are things parents can do to nourish healthy self-image in teens.
Encourage your teen to exercise regularly. Exercise reduces stress and builds strength and endurance. This helps the teen develop a healthy body and a healthy body image.
Help your teen set realistic goals. Unless your child is some kind of prodigy, he probably won’t make varsity quarterback in his freshman year. However, if he works hard, he may make the freshman football team. By setting reasonable goals in athletics, academics and hobbies, your teen has a greater chance of success. So, on those few times when he does fail, he can see that his accomplishments outweigh his mistakes.
Give your teen age-appropriate responsibilities. It is important that your teen feels both the seriousness and the freedom of her maturity. For example, when she is old enough to babysit, let her. This shows your teen that you trust her and that you recognize she is growing up.
Let your teen teach you. There are many things that teens do better than their parents. For example, many teens have more experience on technical gadgets such as video games or even web design than parents. When you ask your teen for help or knowledge, you are telling that teen that what he does is important and recognizing his skills.
Spend one-on-one time with your teen. This shows that you care and that she is important. In a similar way, listen to your teen more than you talk. This teaches her that her ideas, thoughts and fears are important and valued.
Tips & Warnings
- Model an optimistic and positive outlook for your teen.
- If you notice signs of depression such as prolonged sadness, or you fear that your teen may hurt herself in any way, seek the advice of your pediatrician or a mental-health professional.
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