Teen Angst Parenting: Self-Esteem The 2K Way
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.
Reach Out To Your Teen: Get Them A Survival Guide And Read it Together
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?
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.
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...
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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