“You don’t understand!”
I’m sure many parents have heard this coming from their teenagers. You find yourself reflecting back to your own adolescent years as you watch your teen storm to their room, throw their backpack on the floor, and slam the bedroom door behind them.
You remember the rock n’ roll music, the fluffy hair, and the bright colored clothing. You didn’t have social media, access to oodles of information at your fingertips or even privacy when it came to talking to your friends on the home phone. It feels like a lifetime ago. How could you possibly relate?
Your teen’s experience isn’t so different than your own. Teens still experience the pressure to fit in, the pressure to date, the pressure to perform academically, and the fear of failure. Just as you once did. And when struggling to fit in, it’s all too easy to feel out of place and lonely. Sometimes, teens choose to isolate themselves as a result of bullying. None of which helps with their self-esteem.
Teens experiencing low self-esteem view themselves as unworthy and lack confidence. It interferes with their ability to form relationships, try new activities, and take healthy risks. It’s unlikely that your teen will come forward and tell you that they are struggling with low self-esteem. So how will you know when to step in?
Here are some common signs to look for in your teen:
Teens experiencing low self-esteem may express negative thoughts about their worth.
“I’m just not good enough to be friends with them.”
Inability to make eye-contact:
Teens struggling with low self-esteem may find it difficult to make eye contact when communicating. They assume the other person is viewing them negatively.
Avoiding social situations:
Teens with low self-esteem may lack the confidence to form social relationships and therefore avoid social situations altogether.
As a parent, you can play a key role in building your teen’s self-esteem. This will enable your teen to take on challenges with confidence and feel a sense of pride in their abilities. Here are some ways you can help improve your teen’s self-esteem:
Focusing on Strengths
What does your teen excel in? What are their interests? Build upon these strengths.
If your teen enjoys reading, have them join a book club where they can meet others with similar hobbies.
It’s important to praise your teen when they’ve done something well. Try to make your teen aware of the qualities you admire about them.
“I like the way you took the time to help your grandmother. You are a kind-hearted person.”
Encourage your teen to spend a little time journaling every day. Journaling is a great way to become more aware of yourself.
Have your teen write down their highlights for the day, characteristics they like about themselves or things they are grateful for. For more prompts, you can look here.
The next time your teen tells you that you don’t understand, let them know that actually, you do understand. Try to relate by sharing your own personal experiences. Most importantly, don’t forget to remind them that you are there for them and that they have your support.