The Gateway to Healthy Self-Esteem in Your Teen
Although it may go without saying, adolescence tends to be a time of self-focus. Self-esteem is an issue that comes to heightened attention in adolescence, as adolescents tend to begin to evaluate themselves based on their outer appearance, feelings of insecurity, inner critic, success in relationships with friends, family, and romantic interests, and in comparison to peers.
Adolescence is accompanied by intense physical and psychological changes. Physical maturation (puberty) can contribute to feelings of self-consciousness, increase comparison to and among peers, and increased anxiety about one’s changing body. It can be helpful for self-esteem if teens are coached that pubertal changes are normal and will happen to everyone, just at different times.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
One of the most important things you can do for your teenager is to provide support, encouragement, and love to help show them they are important. Having a positive relationship with one’s parents during childhood and adolescence is important to fostering healthy self-esteem – even though, of course, teens are tending to focus more of their time and energy on friendships at this age.
Positive feelings can increase when a teen feels more comfortable ‘in their own skin’. It can help to focus on what you CAN control regarding the changing appearance, such as: cleanliness and good grooming, clothes according to current style, dressing appropriately for body type, and healthy eating and exercise habits.
And, of course, non-appearance related components to life are SO important (more important, really, just not always seeming that way to teens) and can bring longer lasting positive feelings anyway. Being a kind person, a hard worker, rising to the challenge of new classes in school, improving in a sport or hobby, standing up for someone who’s being picked on, volunteering or similar work with animals or to help the less fortunate, and the like.