Teen Angst Parenting: Self-Esteem The 2K Way

Teens Say... The Bus Ride Can Make Or Break Your Day
Teens Say... The Bus Ride Can Make Or Break Your Day

Imagine you're ordering lunch at McDonalds…

Behind you is a loud group of teens. They're texting, and fighting over the cell phone to see the replies.

You get shoved in the tussle, and drop your change.

Suddenly, the teens at your back burst out laughing.

Are they laughing at you?

This type of self-evaluating attack is a real threat to one's esteem.

Unfortunately... teens are constantly in the face of such outbursts.

It happens in school hallways, when they approach a group of friends, even when they try to tell their family about their ambitions and feelings.

So, what is self-esteem?

Self-esteem simply defines an individual's concept of worth.

It can be superficial as in being worthy of a pretty girl's affection, or...profound like being worthy of life itself.

Teens are especially vulnerable to attacks on their self-esteem because they place great value on physical attributes and social statuses that are beyond their control.

Relationships Are The Teen Version Of The See Saw… They Bring You Up And Down
Relationships Are The Teen Version Of The See Saw… They Bring You Up And Down

When a teen is unable to cope with threats to their self esteem they are at high risk for:

  • antisocial behaviors, such as stealing, bulling, and sexual promiscuity
  • developing eating disorders
  • drug use
  • isolation and depression
  • poor school performance

Now... while peers have the power to break down a teen's concept of worthiness... Parents and caregivers have the most influence on developing a teen's self-esteem.

It's a shame that when the concept of developing self-esteem became popular in the early 1970's it was misinterpreted as praising the child even if they do something poorly.

Proof this technique doesn't work is found on the faces of our most dumbfounded American Idol wannabes.

So, how can parents and caregivers foster a teenager's self-esteem without giving false value?

Praise Strengths

This doesn't mean to stand up and cheer every time your teen takes out the garbage... but you can say, "Thanks I really appreciate your help"

It also really helps to stop and think about what you're praising because the meaning comes across as more valuable when you say it right.

Grades are a biggie. Many well meaning parents say, "Wow, congratulations on the A!"

They would've put a higher value on the teen's performance if they said, "Wow! I see you really worked hard this semester. I heard Mr. Sung is a tough science teacher.

Friendships Are Great… But They Can Drift In And Out As The Tides Change... Make Home Thier Life Raft
Friendships Are Great… But They Can Drift In And Out As The Tides Change... Make Home Thier Life Raft

It’s Never Too Late to Read to Your Kids

My teens still love to snuggle up on the couch while I read to them.

Read Out Loud Sessions Will:

  • Bring You Closer
  • Get You Talking
  • Help You Learn Together
  • And Create Bonds

Provide a Secure Home Environment

Anywhere a teen comes into contact with peers can be as threatening as any dark and foreboding jungle.

If you don't believe me, hang around and watch your teen interact with his/her friends.

Just about every time your teen makes a comment they 'll look around to see how their friends will react to what they've said.

With this in mind, realize it's important for a teen to have a place where they can feel free to relax, be themselves, and still be loved with or without makeup, acne, or clever comment.

Home is the best place, but...

Teens are more likely to "play" nice when they have a common interest. Science, horseback riding, and manga clubs are just a few suggestions.

Create Opportunities to Share and Make Memories

Working on a project like, painting the house, or taking a trip with your teen will give you countless opportunities to swap stories, experiences, and make memories that are just between you and your teen.

If you spend time with your teen, even if it starts in protest, they'll come to recognize you as someone they can share their thoughts with and turn to for support.

For a teen, just knowing they have the security of a supportive family will help cancel out any negative intrusions from peers.

Hug Your Teen Today...

And Have A Better Day Tomorrow!
And Have A Better Day Tomorrow!

Easy Read Out Loud Books That Will Spark Conversation

 Use Positive Touch

Athletes have got this down "pat", and it doesn't take much.

A pat on the back or a hug in addition to positive words can really make a statement.

To teens it says," I must not have cooties even though I feel like I do at school", or "Mom really hugged me tight, she must be really proud of me for cleaning my room without her asking me."

For some reason, parents stop touching their kid at a time when they most need to know they're loveable.

Don't feel bad if your teen rejects your touch at first. It probably came at a bad time, such as after you've had an argument, or they're just not used to you touching them anymore.

They'll come around if you reserve positive touch for a more appropriate situation.

In the end... what's most important for parents to understand is that our teens are not younger versions of ourselves.

Our children are individual people learning about themselves and where they fit into society.

Remain positive and patient because your teen still depends on you.

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Comments 4 comments

helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan

Great, great hub. I'm 19 and haven't lived with my parents for at least 2 years now, and my parents give me such subtle but abundant love when I'm home that it always makes me want to visit for more! I especially like your tips about positive touch. It's so important.

Mind if I link this page from my hub on dealing with bullying? I think they would work quite nicely together!


Sangay Glass profile image

Sangay Glass 8 years ago Author

Thanks for the good word.

I hate bullies too, sure you can link us up. Did you check out...

teen Angst: Keyboard Bullies and CyberRage?


Denmarkguy profile image

Denmarkguy 8 years ago from Port Townsend

Great hub!

Wish my parents had had some of this insight, "way back when."

I think something crucial in fostering self-esteem is that someone's deeds must match their words... or it creates a very "mixed sense of self" in a person. For example, my parents were always TELLING me "how bright" I was, but berating me for any less than perfect grades; TELLING me I was "wonderful," but often ignoring most of what I had to say... kids are not dumb-- they can tell by people's actions, what they really "mean."

lafrontis profile image

lafrontis 8 years ago from San Diego

Great article! Thanks,it's given me insight for my middle schooler.

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