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Helping Your Teen Develop a Sense of Self-Worth

Self-esteem and self-confidence can easily be the victim of comparison to peers or others. It can be difficult for teens to feel successful or feel good about themselves when their environment pushes them to do otherwise.

Even though I am a mental health professional, as a parent, I struggled in helping my teen develop a sense of self-worth. Through my extensive research study, I have learned that the lack of self-worth, leads to low self-esteem. And low self-esteem amongst teenagers was found to be closely related to the feelings of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal tendencies. Therefore, I was eager to learn more on how to help my teen develop a sense of self-worth.

As a parent, you can help your teen develop a sense of their self-worth, rather than letting the people around them influence them. A teen who feels a sense of belonging, security, and good health will be a winner no matter what happens.

One tactic for helping them develop a sense of self-worth is that they must know that you love them unconditionally! Unconditional love lets your child build their sense of self-worth on a solid foundation, not in competition with others. Ensure your teen can tell that your love does not depend on other factors, like grades, performance in sports, or popularity. A teen that feels that you only love them when they get good grades or win a soccer championship may feel inadequate or worthless if they fail. Love them for who they are, not for what they can do for you. That does not mean you can’t have disagreements with your teenager, but stress that you love them no matter what.

For the teenagers that chooses to participate in dance, sports, or a club, give them all the support they need with their choices. Do this without you pushing your agenda onto them. Instead of shaming them for not pursuing a particular path (and telling them you’re disappointed), help them find a course that better suits them. Parents have a significant influence on their children. So, when parents force their teen to pursue a specific path, it places so much pressure on them and can cause them anxiety. But, with unconditional love and support, teens will be free to make good choices for themselves. This would also help them learn from their own mistakes, which nurtures growth.

Welcome a growth mindset rather than a fixed one in the home. Growth mindsets encourage teens to be open to new challenges, whether they’re learning a language, trying a new sport, or tackling a complicated math problem. Embracing a growth mindset is healthier for your teens’ mental health than a fixed mindset. Many children have fixed mindsets when it comes to their abilities. That means they believe their test scores and grades tell them everything they need to know. But, if your teen has a growth mindset, they learn that they can constantly improve and continue to grow in confidence.

Teach your teenager how to be assertive. Teens must learn to take charge of their lives, set boundaries, talk to others respectfully, and speak up for themselves. That can be difficult for parents, but ultimately, it benefits the teen in the long run. You can teach assertiveness by practicing it yourself, setting clear rules, and saying no to your teen when they ask for something unreasonable. When they learn such skills early, they’ll apply them to other situations. Not only will they speak up for themselves when people treat them poorly, but they’ll also be able to stand up for others when they need a shoulder.

I had to learn that to help my teenagers build confidence, I had to know what it was to be confident, then become a model of confidence. One of the most important things parents can do early on is instilling in their children a belief in themselves. By believing in your teen and reminding them that they can achieve great things, you help build confidence. Confidence is an essential trait for your teen to develop because it’s important to be able to stand on their own two feet and have confidence in themselves. And you can’t help them develop their confidence if you yourself don’t have any. Don’t forget to work on yourself too! 

So maybe our society isn’t perfect. But until we can create an ideal world, we can still do everything in our power to make it better for the next generation. And one of the best ways to do that is by supporting your teen, listening to their thoughts and opinions, and encouraging them to chase their dreams. Be your teenager’s number one fan! The end goal is to reduce their chances of developing depression or any feelings of hopelessness. If you do suspect your teenager might be experiencing anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts, please speak with their doctor.

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