When it comes to self-esteem, the teenage years are some of the most brutal for chipping away at it and making kids question their self-worth. It can be painful for parents to see their once happy, outgoing children beginning to bask in self-doubt. Low self-esteem is also the reason many turn to drugs, alcohol, and other self-destructive behavior.
So what can parents do to help build that self-esteem at this stage in the game? I spoke with Nancy S. Buck, PhD, president and founder of Peaceful Parenting Inc., to get some tips specifically for teenagers in addition to those she provided about fostering self-esteem in toddlers and grade schoolers. Here are three easy strategies she suggests parents use to build self-esteem in teens.
1. Ask Questions
Once again the best technique is to ask questions, but when kids reach this age, parents shouldn't expect or wait for an answer. They may tell, they may not. But parents still need to ask and trust that their child is answering inside his/her own head even if they don’t tell you out loud.
Ask, and if you get an answer, listen and ask for more details, but don’t push too much here. Some examples:
“What was great about you today?”
“What did you accomplish that relieved you?” (Or that pleased you? Or that made you happy? Or that made you proud? But ask only one of these!)
“How were you kind today?” (Again, a parent can change this to emphasize a value that is important to your family values.)
More from The Stir: 15 Surefire Ways to Fight Low Self-Esteem
2. Give Compliments
Compliments should be very specific, out loud, and frequent. Parents need to be careful in finding the right balance of not too much and not too little. Even though some (many) teens may appear indifferent to you, they are not. They just don’t want you to know that they care.
Children are most out of balance, struggling more with who they are and who they are becoming during this stage than any other time in their lives. They rely on your love, support, and help. But your feedback and compliments must be authentic, genuine, and accurate. Kids are the best at detecting false compliments and condescension.
3. Notice and Share
“I appreciate giving your sister a ride to her friend’s house after school today. That really helped me out.”
“I appreciate your taking out the garbage without arguing. Thanks.”
How do you build self-esteem in your children?
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