Although struggling with self-esteem issues is something that many of us deals with from time to time, many teenagers often seem to feel particularly bad about themselves. They struggle with feelings that they are not good enough or will never amount to anything now or in the future.
These negative feelings can cause teens to avoid situations where they think there is a risk of failing, making mistakes or being embarrassed. These include making friends and trying new activities inside and outside school – experiences that help mold the healthy, normal growth and progress of teenagers.
Failing to help teenagers overcome this mental and emotional self-esteem issue can lead to more serious problems such as:
- Low motivation
- Poor decision-making skills
- Mood swings
- Poor body image
- Increased tendency to experiment with risky behavior
Helping Teenagers Build Their Confidence
Seeing teens struggle with low self-esteem and experiencing the consequences can be heartbreaking. Without help to turn things around, they will experience a never-ending downward spiral.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, or school counselor, here are some simple tips you can follow to help teenagers boost their self-confidence:
1. Be generous with positive feedback
Since teenagers with self-esteem issues don’t feel they are good at anything, be generous in giving them praise.
Develop the habit of looking for situations where teens display a particular talent or do a good job. Praising them to point out their positive traits and skills will be helpful as well.
For instance, if they completed a great essay, immediately tell them what you like about the paper. Make sure you also mention that they have a talent for writing and that you are looking forward to reading more of their pieces.
Additionally, develop the habit of praising teens for the things that they did not do. For example, if a teen didn’t give in to the temptation to sulk when he or she got a low grade, compliment him or her for doing so.
2. Encourage teens to pursue their talents and interests
Once you have an idea of what your kids or students excel at, urge them to develop or improve this skill or talent.
Encourage them to join classes that will allow them to learn more or enhance these skills. If they are into sports, try suggesting they sign up for the school or local team.
In case you are unsure what a teen is passionate about, ask him or her directly. Try to find ways for them to develop their interests further. If a child is interested in fashion, for example, encourage him or her to learn more about it or even try teen modeling.
As the adult, always remember that your role is to encourage, not push. As such, if some teens are still not interested in pursuing their talent or interest, do not force them. Give them time to think about their special skill or passion.
3. Teach teens to use positive self-talk
Teenagers need to learn how to build their self-confidence themselves. You can do this by teaching them positive self-talk.
Help teens develop the habit of turning negative thinking into positive thinking. Teach them how to put more weight on their talents, skills, and positive traits.
Additionally, make sure you teach them to avoid being too harsh on themselves. This involves helping teens learn how to reframe irrational thoughts into something more realistic and positive. For instance, thinking that “I will pass math as long as I study hard” is better and more helpful than believing “I will fail math because I’m not smart.”
4. Help them to be more assertive
Speaking up is something that teens with self-esteem issues will have difficulties doing. And the longer they continue to keep things bottled up, the more emotional problems they will have. Because of this, it is vital that you teach teenagers to be assertive.
Keep in mind that teens who can speak up for themselves are less likely to be looked down on or treated poorly by their peers. Consequently, they will find it easier to make more friends, something that will further boost their confidence.
However, it is essential that you teach teens to be assertive in the right manner. Although you want them to speak up more often, you do not want them to come across as too aggressive or having no filter.
5. Consistently give reassurance
Finally, teens need an adult’s support as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence. Teenagers need to constantly hear that they can do great things and that they can overcome all challenges.
Whether a teen is having difficulties with school work or having doubts about friendships, make sure you are always there to listen to their worries and to help your child with their emotions.
More importantly, let them know that you are always there to guide and support them unconditionally whether they succeed or fail.
Having low self-esteem can be detrimental to teenagers. As an adult, make sure you know when teens are already overwhelmed by this distressing emotional state and help them rise above this challenge so that they can grow to be successful adults.
Adam Jacobs is the Managing Director of Bubblegum Casting, the longest running agency specialising in babies, children, and teen talent in Australia. Bubblegum Casting works with some of Australia’s biggest brands, media properties and agencies to secure talented children to work in Television, Film and Modelling roles.