It’s common for teens to occasionally struggle with their self-esteem and diminish their self appreciation.
The teenage years can be challenging and sometimes confusing, and when teens begin to struggle, it’s easy for them to internalize their frustrations, which can result in them feeling bad about themselves.
But confidence and self-esteem are key ingredients for future success, and it’s important for teens to learn how to appreciate themselves for their own individual personalities, strengths, and abilities.
Take a look at some strategies you can use to help your teen start off the new year with self appreciation.
Encourage Your Teen to Give Their Input
The teenage years are a period of transition. Your teen isn’t an adult yet, but they’re not a child anymore either. Teens tend to want to be treated more like adults and can get frustrated when they feel as if they’re being patronized or held back.
Try to encourage your teen to think more like an adult by giving them some input on adult decisions like:
- Where to go on vacation this year,
- What color to paint the home’s exterior, or
- Other things that affect the whole family, not just them.
Let them know that you take their opinions seriously, and ask them to spend some time researching and considering options just like you would.
This is a way of letting your teen know that you take them seriously as a nearly-adult member of the family, and you’ll also give them a chance to experience adult decision making, which can help them build confidence. Plus, you may be pleasantly surprised by their ideas. Teen brains are good at creative thinking and resourcefulness.
Be Supportive During Times of Conflict
Teen relationships can be turbulent. It’s not uncommon for friendships and romantic relationships between teenagers to go through drama-filled conflicts. Teens tend to feel things very strongly, and due to their young age, sometimes lack the necessary life experience to put seemingly minor conflicts into perspective.
You may remember experiencing strong feelings over issues and conflicts yourself when you were a teenager, but from an adult perspective, you may view those memories differently than you did at the time.
As an adult, you can more easily identify when you may have overreacted as a teenager, or when you may have made mountains out of molehills. And this can lead to dismissiveness toward your own teenager’s feelings and problems – with the benefit of age and experience, it may be easy for you to see your teen’s major concerns as minor in the grand scheme of things.
However, this perspective is unavailable to your teen, and therefore unhelpful.
Instead of minimizing your teen’s concerns and conflicts, look for ways to be supportive. You can often help just by being willing to be a sympathetic sounding board. Listen to what your teen has to say and validate their feelings.
You don’t have to support your teen’s every action or response to conflict – it’s OK to suggest handling things a different way. But your teen needs to know that even if you don’t always agree with them, that you will always take them seriously and support them in finding their own way.
When you minimize your teen’s feelings and experiences, you teach them that their concerns aren’t important, which can make them doubt themselves. Taking your teen’s worries seriously and validating their feelings reinforces that their feelings matter.
Praise Effort Instead of Outcome
It’s nice to think that if you just work hard enough, you’ll achieve all of your goals. But realistically, that’s not the case. You can work very hard and still never achieve some goals, and that’s true for your teen as well.
For example, they may study diligently for an upcoming test and still not manage to get a perfect score. But they’ll certainly get a better score than they would have if they hadn’t studied at all.
This is why it’s important to praise your teen’s efforts more than their outcomes. It’s OK if your teen isn’t a straight-A student as long as they’ve put in the work to get the best grades they’re capable of getting.
It’s one thing to have high expectations of your teen – you should have the expectation that they’ll do their very best in class, or that they’ll work hard to memorize their lines for the class play, or that they’ll practice diligently in their sport.
Teens need their parents to have high expectations of them; it lets them know that you believe they’re capable of working hard and doing well. But it’s not realistic to expect that your teen will ace every class, performance, or game. Your teen simply doesn’t have control over every possible factor that might affect those outcomes.
But they do have control over how they study, practice, and prepare. And their diligent efforts will pay off in some way, even if they don’t always get the A or the win.
So praise your teen for the effort they put into achieving their goals and reduce your focus on the outcome.
Model Self Appreciation and Confidence
Ultimately, your actions speak louder than your words, especially with teenagers.
Teens are very sensitive to hypocrisy, and they’ll pick up on it if you’re not doing the things that you want them to do. So make sure that you model self-appreciation and confidence for your teenager.
If you’re in the habit of making critical remarks about yourself or failing to acknowledge your own achievements and abilities, your teen will learn to do the same things. Work on changing those habits for yourself, if you have them.
Tout your accomplishments when appropriate and avoid speaking negatively about yourself. Your teen will see that you’re not afraid to appreciate yourself, and they’ll learn that it’s OK for them to appreciate themselves as well.
Parents can help their teens by giving them opportunities and tools to develop a sense of appreciation for themselves.
Building your teen’s sense of self-appreciation is a great goal to start the new year with.
Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.