The teen years are exciting and challenging times. Mastery will improve self-esteem in teenagers, but failure can hit pretty hard. Teens are trying out new ideas, new looks, and even different personalities. Unfortunately, all these unique discoveries take place while enduring radical physical and hormonal changes.
They also like to explore their beliefs. And peer pressure can be overwhelming when the approval of friends becomes important. Self-esteem during this stage is often high one day and low the next day. How can parents, caregivers, and others help teens build their confidence? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, here are five excellent ways to improve self-esteem in teenagers.
1. Give Them the Freedom to Express Themselves
Part of being a teenager is defining who they are as individuals. This means discovering their own sense of style, what genres of music they like, and which peer groups they most closely identify with. It can also mean exploring their faith and values. A lot of trial and error goes into this process. Letting them work their way through it with unconditional love and non-judgmental support is one of several ways to improve self esteem in teenagers.
They may dye their hair in wild colors, dress only in black or want to stick to a favorite name brand, wear neon make-up or any number of crazy things that make adults raise their eyebrows. If your teen is meeting his or her responsibilities and is not in violation of school dress codes or your family values, then let them have at it.
They might look or act ridiculous at times. However, all these explorations are part of the process. On the plus side, they will feel good about themselves.
2. Praise Effort over Success
High school students are expected to get good grades, excel in sports or music, and be part of all manner of extra-curricular clubs. That’s a lot of pressure. If expectations set by others are not met, it can be crushing to a young person’s self-esteem. Doing good work and reaping the rewards is commendable. Nonetheless, so is working hard to be the best you can be, whether that’s a straight A student or not.
When trying to find ways to improve self-esteem in teenagers, consider focusing on praising their efforts instead of their results. Some young people will work for weeks to get a B. Others can just roll out of bed and get an A. The hard work that went into that B deserves recognition just as much as that A. This reinforces the development of a strong work ethic that will be useful in the real world.
3. Let Them Find Their Passion
We all have gifts, talents, and things we care deeply about. Ask your teen what his or hers are. If they are not sure, help them discover what it is. Talking with them about their interests and current hobbies is a good way to start. Let them try different things until they find something that really excites them. Art, music, athletics, business, cooking, and writing are just a few possibilities.
Once they find their passion or passions, support them. Try providing learning opportunities, supplies that are needed, and time to pursue their interests. This lets them know that you care about what is important to them.
This is one of the costlier and more time-consuming ways to improve self-esteem in teenagers. On the other hand, it can also be one of the most rewarding.
4. Use That Passion to Help Others
Everyone wants to feel useful and love that they make a difference in the world. This is especially true of teens. They are filled with energy and ideas but are stuck between childhood and adulthood. Help them find ways to make a difference using their passions.
Doing things for others can help people feel better about themselves. It’s also something that can be done as a family if your teen is open to that.
Have your teen make a list of their talents and hobbies. See how those things can be matched with needs at local volunteer and community service organizations. This is easily done online or with a few phone calls.
You or your teen can also ask at their school about clubs involved in community service. If you belong to a religious community, that is another place to find potential service opportunities.
5. Let Them Fail
Letting your teen fail may sound counterproductive. However, it’s one of the most effective ways to improve self-esteem in teenagers. Failure is part of life. The question isn’t if it happens, but when. Once the inevitable is at your door, will your young person know what to do? Experience is the best teacher for this, even though it can be hard to watch them go through it.
Convey to your teen that you believe they can handle whatever the situation is, and they will believe it also. Be there to support them, but don’t try to fix it. Encourage your teen to look at the origins of their failure. Help them find out what they can learn from it and how those lessons can be applied to future endeavors. They will be gaining wisdom and the confidence to get out there and try again.
There are no quick ways to improve self-esteem in teenagers. It requires a multi-faceted approach, consistency, and a lot of patience. Letting them express themselves, praising their efforts, helping them find their passion, and letting them fail are all useful parts of the process. Even though teenagers are almost grown, they still need the loving guidance of the important adults in their lives.
We hope you have found some helpful ideas in this list of ways to improve-self esteem in teenagers. Try implementing one or two and see if it makes a difference. Please share your thoughts with us on this topic. If you have any other ideas for helping build up a teenager’s confidence, share those too. We’d love to hear from you.