Parenting teens is tough work. You want your teens to feel confident in their skin. The teenage years can be the most challenging for kids and their parents. They can be the most awkward in a person’s life. How can you build your teen’s self esteem? Great question! Here are a few strategies to help you connect with your teenager and help them build their self-esteem.
Four Things to Focus On
- Be a Good Listener
- Promote a Growth Mindset
- Love Unconditionally
- Encourage New Opportunities
Be A Good Listener
It’s not easy to sit back and just listen as your teen is struggling. In fact, your instinct is to step in and give advice, to fix whatever it is that our kids need help with. It’s hard to watch your kids struggle. However, learning to problem solve builds self-confidence in your kids. Listening is the best thing you can do to help your teen’s self esteem.
So how do you know when to listen and when to help solve their problems? You can know by asking these questions.
Three questions to ask your teenager are:
- Do you need me just to listen? Sometimes your kids would just like to tell you about their troubles without offering advice or solutions. Having the freedom to express all their thoughts, free of judgment, builds their trust in you.
- Do you need me to get involved? Other times your kids will need your help. By asking if they want you to get involved, you give them choice. Along with the choice, they also get to accept responsibility.
- Do you need me to offer advice? You know what it’s like to have advice given when you don’t want it. So does your child. Ask them if they want to hear your advice. If they say “yes” you have again earned their trust.
Listening Encourages Thinking
Listening to your teen will give them the opportunity to reflect and explore what is happening so they can work on how to solve the problem. Once they decide on a plan to move forward, support them in their decision. Then no matter the outcome continue to support and make time for listening to their needs.
It’s important to show your teen that you value their opinion. Encourage independent thinking by taking time to listen, even when you don’t agree with their thinking.
Promote A Growth Mindset
Many teenagers get stuck in a fixed mindset because of their age and development during those years. They compare themselves to their peers and are unsure how to move forward. The fixed mindset keeps them from having a positive outlook.
Having a growth mindset means accepting that making mistakes and failing will help you to learn and do better next time. Growth mindsets help kids form positive attitudes.
As parents, the best thing you can do to support a growth mindset is to continue to remind our teens that their abilities are not fixed or inflexible, but there is always room to grow and improve.
In working on promoting a growth mindset, modeling positive self-talk with your teen benefits their whole life and it helps them to develop a growth mindset.
Social pressures cause teens to have negative views of themselves. This is natural for teens.
You can help by steering your teenager away from comparing themselves to other or allowing the negative self talk. This happens by encouraging them to focus on the qualities, skills and attributes they like about themselves instead. This way of promoting a growth mindset gives them the tools to engage in positive self-talk.
Teach your teen to focus on their actions and skills knowing that when they focus on what they “can control” they’re using a growth mindset. For example, if they did poorly on a test and their friends got an A, it’s not about how their friend did, but what can they do differently to make it better for next time.
Don’t you love your kids unconditionally all the time? Yes, that’s true. You just need to make sure you are intentional in letting them know and in showing it. Make sure your teen knows that your LOVE does NOT depend on what they do. For example, it doesn’t depend on their grades, how they look, performance, friend group, college or behavior.
You love them no matter what.
Of course you assume your teenager knows this, but you do need to tell them and intentionally show them. How do you do that? By telling them daily that you love them no matter what. You tell them you love them for who they are, not what they do. Verbalize this message to them all the time. Reassure them you will love them through everything- all the ups and downs. And remember to give authentic praise.
Congratulate Your Teen On:
- Hard work
Encourage New Opportunities
Connecting with your teen might seem impossible. So it is important to focus on their strengths. Use their strenghts as a way to encourage them to try different opportunities. This will help them to grow, learn, and expand their interests.
- Join a new club
- Play a musical instrument
- Find a part-time job
- Find a hobby
- Yoga/Physical exercise
Many times when your teen steps outside their group of friends and focuses on their strengths and new opportunities, they create new friendships. Some of these may last a lifetime. Many times our teens stick with their comfort level. By encouraging them to use their strengths and try new things, you build their self-confidence. It provides more opportunities to build on their passion and explore options.
The teen years can be tough for our kids. This means they are difficult years for parents too. You want your teens to feel confident in their skin. It’s so important to build self-esteem during those years.
Use these four strategies: 1. Be a Good Listener 2. Promote a Growth Mindset 3. Love Unconditionally and 4. Encourage New Opportunities and you’ll give your teenager the tools they need to build their self-confidence.
Build Your Teen’s Self Esteem
By Dr. Kim Grengs, Ed.D., Parent Coach