It is not easy to be a teen in today’s world. They face peer pressure, body issues, harsh competition in every field, puberty, high expectations from parents and other pressures that can lead a teenager to think that they are not cut out to survive, let alone succeed in life. Your teen is no different. As a parent, you would want to support your child and make them come out of it.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, and our behaviour clearly reflects those feelings. A child or teen with high self-esteem will be able to:
- act independently
- assume responsibility
- take pride in their accomplishments
- tolerate frustration in a healthy manner
- Show a willingness to attempt new tasks and challenges
- handle positive and negative emotions
- offer support to others easily
What are the causes of low self-esteem in teens?
Your teen can develop low self-esteem due to a number of events happening in their life. Some of them are:
- Disturbances in family life
- They can be affected by your parenting style
- Difficulties keeping up with school work
- Body issues
- Bullying in school
- Lack of friends
- Inability to ‘fit’ in with others
- Emotional or social discrimination
- Medical problems
For all the above, your teen might blame themselves for the situation and think it’s their fault.
How to know if your teens have low self-esteem:
A teen or child with low self-esteem will:
- avoid trying new things
- find it difficult to make friends or ask for help
- feel unloved and unwanted
- have a persistent fear of embarrassment or failure
- blame others for their own shortcomings
- feel, or pretend to feel, emotionally indifferent
- be unable to tolerate a normal level of frustration
- put down their own talents and abilities
- use negative self-talk
- be easily influenced
What are the long-term effects of low self-esteem in teens?
Lack of self-esteem in teens manifest as anxiety, panic attacks, commitment difficulties, body image issues, reliance on alcohol or drugs to feel better and depression; therefore, as a parent, it is your job to make sure your teens grow up healthy, confident and able to take on anything in the adult lives.
Here are 11 activities you can try out to improve your teen’s self-esteem and power them through to adulthood:
- Indulge in their hobbies – Your kids might not be able to do what they love (and also be stress relief) if they’re juggling school, extracurriculars, chores, and homework. Thus you should put aside a few hours every week just for them to do whatever they love: sports, art, music, dance, etc. This will greatly help them by reaffirming everything they’ve accomplished so far.
- Core belief challenge – Your teen might be carrying false, semi-conscious beliefs that might be undermining their sense of pride or worth. It is important to spring clean their beliefs in order to make your teen a better and positive person. Make your teen identify three negative core beliefs, write them down, and provide three reasons why each belief is not true.
- Positive goals diary – This activity makes your teen identify their goals and ways to achieve them. Your teen can do the activity by themselves or with you. The activity is divided into two sections — ‘Setting goals’ and ‘Obstructions and strategies’. Under the first section, ask your teen to write the goals they want to achieve in the next few days, next one month, one year, and the coming five years. In the next section, tell them to write down how they plan to achieve the goals and what problems they might face.
- Self-Esteem Sentence Completion – This exercise will help your teen become comfortable sharing their thoughts with others, making it easier for them to work on their self-worth. The activity is intended to help them explore their feelings and emotions. Come up with open-ended questions like, ‘I feel my future is,’ ‘The thing I am most afraid of,’ ‘I wish I could,’ ‘I love when,’ ‘I struggle when,’ ‘Today is going to be’. Ask your teen to answer these at the end of each day and compare the trend of their answers after two weeks.
- Self-appreciation chart – In order to develop healthy self-esteem, it is important to appreciate ourselves. This activity will help your teen become more confident. Let your teen write one good thing about themselves, on a chart every day, this can start with something small and progress to more meaningful qualities or skills.
- Positive Affirmations Day – Observe a positive affirmation day at your home once a week for your teenager to feel confident and affable. This can work wonders in boosting their self-esteem. For the entire day, your teen should only think positively about their achievements and themselves, while other family members should affirm their thoughts.
- Gratitude journaling – Maintaining a gratitude journal can be immensely satisfying for your teen and help them feel more positive about life and themselves. Every day, instruct your teen to record at least two things they were grateful for in their life and tell them to increase the number gradually.
- Body language test – This exercise is crucial for your teen to curb their self-criticism and negative energy that can eat away their self-worth. Tell your teen to observe their body language in a mirror when they are having a negative thought. Then ask them to replace it with a positive thought and observe their body language again.
- Negative self-talk exercise – Negative self-talk is an important reason behind low self-esteem. The following activity, if practiced regularly, will help your teen reduce the cycle of negative self-talk and make them a more positive person. This activity is divided into four sections. In the first section, tell your teen to write down the thought that triggers a negative thought. In the second section, let them explain the negative thought in detail; feelings associated with the negative thought, in the third section; and evidence that do not support their thought, in the fourth section. They then need to come up with an alternative positive thought to replace the original negative one and examine how the positive thought makes them feel.
- Body appreciation time – If your teen is a victim of body image issues, then this activity might be just right for them. It will teach them to love their body, no matter how it is. Tell your teen to stand in front of the mirror and come up with three things that they find beauty in their looks and make them do this exercise regularly for better results.
- Letter of encouragement – You can bond with your teen and also boost their self-worth and you may engage your entire family in it. Prepare a chart, and ask all the members of your family to fill in two things for which they are proud of your teen, and two things to keep the teen’s morale high. Once the chart is filled, hang it in your teen’s room.
As your teen begins practicing these exercises, they will gradually start getting more confident and improve their self-confidence. Your love and support should improve these activities to encourage them and reassure them that you are always there for them.