What is self-esteem? To put it simply, it’s how you feel about yourself. Your self-esteem can be impacted by many different factors from the people around you to stressful events. Self-esteem is complex and can change throughout your entire life. While you might have high self-esteem now, there’s a chance your self-esteem was lower when you were younger.
Low self-esteem is common in teenagers. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. Low self-esteem can lead to depression, which could negatively impact the rest of your teen’s life. Instead of assuming your child will grow out of their low self-esteem, do what you can to help.
In this article, we highlight five things parents can do to boost their child’s self-esteem and improve their quality of life:
1. Help Your Teens When You Can
Having low self-esteem is common among teenagers. From worry about bullies to concerns about physical flaws like acne, it’s easy for teens to feel bad about themselves. While high school doesn’t last forever, low self-esteem can hang on well into adulthood.
While you can’t make all of your teen’s problems go away, you can help boost their self-esteem. For one, if your teen is being bullied, talk to them about it. Make sure they know that bullying is never personal, even when it feels personal. Encourage them to talk to you or another trusted adult if they are concerned for their safety.
Physical issues like weight or acne can also be a root cause for self-esteem issues. If your teen struggles with acne, do your research on what acne treatment is available to help clear their skin. While beauty is only skin deep, there’s no denying a teen’s appearance can impact how they feel about themselves.
2. Praise Their Efforts, Not Their Accomplishments
Teenagers need to feel like you value them. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to praise your child for their efforts instead of accomplishments. By focusing on the effort they give instead of the end result, you can build them up to tackle future challenges. According to research, our brains respond well to praise. For example, a gesture or a comment can promote good feelings in children, which can help them feel better about themselves.
To help boost your teen’s self-esteem, they need to know their worth isn’t based on whether they win or lose. So, congratulate your teens when they make an attempt to accomplish something. Even if the outcome isn’t what they expected, praise them anyway for trying.
3. Limit Their Social Media
According to research, 60% of those using social media admit it’s impacted their self-esteem in a negative way. If your teen’s self-esteem is plummeting, consider managing their social media activity. Instead of letting your teen spend hours mindlessly scrolling, replace their screen time with something else. For example, convince your teen to join a sport or a new club. You could also create more opportunities for family time where no one is allowed to use technology, even the adults.
There’s no denying social media plays a complex role in your teen’s life. You don’t have to keep them away from technology altogether. But don’t be afraid to limit exposure if social media is impacting your teen. You’re the parent. It’s well in your control to dictate how much time your teen can spend on certain social media apps.
4. Don’t Be Too Controlling
As a parent, you love your teen and you want to protect them. That’s normal, but it’s also problematic. According to a study, children with overly controlling parents can experience life-long psychological damage. The more you control your children, the harder it will be for them to make their own decisions later.
According to research, there’s a direct link between indecisiveness and low self-esteem. After all, not being able to make decisions is usually due to a lack of trust in yourself. If your teenager doesn’t trust themselves, how will they ever become an adult? How will they choose what college to attend? How will they pick a career?
To set your children up for success, don’t be a “helicopter parent” hovering over them. Let your teens make their own decisions, so they can become more confident individuals.
5. Teach Positive Self Talk
Teenagers aren’t the only ones who talk down to themselves. Adults are guilty of this, too. But because teenagers are still growing, it’s easier for them to be influenced by their own words. That’s why it’s so important to teach your kids how to talk positively to themselves.
Instead of statements like, “What if this goes wrong…” teach your kids to say, “Everything will be okay.” Unfortunately, positive self-talk doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Some people have a habit of focusing their attention on the negative rather than the positive. What’s ironic is, the more negative talk we spew, the worse we can feel about ourselves and our life. Teach your teen to keep their self-talk positive and meaningful.
6. Contact A Therapist
If your teen is struggling with low self-esteem, consider contacting a therapist. As mentioned above, low self-esteem can cause depression and a host of other mental health issues. You might think you are all your teen needs. A professional might be better suited to lead them through some of the challenges they experience, though. Of course, this depends on your teen and how they respond to your help at first.
Pew Research reported that depression is increasing in teenagers. In fact, about 3.2 million U.S. teens between 12-17 admitted to experiencing some sort of depressive disorder. Suicide rates among teens have also grown. In 2017 alone, there were almost 6,200 suicides among 15- to 24-year-olds. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for that age group. As a parent, don’t wait to get your teen help. The sooner you reach out to a professional, the better equipped your child will be to address their mental health.
Teenagers are prone to low self-esteem. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it or chalk it up to “normal teenage behavior.” Low self-esteem can lead to other issues, which could greatly impact how your teen grows up. To ensure your child becomes the best version of themselves, help them become more confident. By praising hard work, letting them make their own decisions, and working with a professional, you can boost your teen’s self-esteem.