Then come the comic years…toddlers and primary school aged kids are so cute. They do say the funniest things and they keep us in stitches as they learn to eat human style, walk, string together sensible and non-sensible sentences (those ones are the best!) and give us their unconditional tantrums and love.
Well Moms and Dads…just as you feel you’ve done an exceptional job with your assignment as new parents you are promoted to the next level: PARENTS OF TEENAGERS – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Of course I’m joking it’s not impossible and for me this period has offered some of the most endearing experiences as a parent. But like most, I have had my days.
I look at how hard some teens work at their academics, sports and friendships and I’m moved to happy tears when they succeed. My own two have grown so much and developed into such really good people and human beings.
On the other hand I really hurt for those teens that I know aren’t being heard or haven’t been given the tools and encouragement by those that love them to become confident individuals. As a community I think it is a concern for all of us.
Without that confidence teenage years can be tough and our young people can make some of the worst mistakes of their lives. They can also make some of the best decisions of their lives. As the men and women who love them we have our own jobs to do with respect to the development of our teens.
Healthy teen self esteem is first nurtured at home. A secure home life, supportive parents and a reliable extended family provide the launching point that allows children to thrive. From there it’s a safe school environment and positive peer relationships that further affirm their feelings of being valuable to others.
If a teens home life offers more negative feedback than positive nurturing, it is nearly impossible for that child to come through puberty feeling good about themselves.
Teenagers who don’t have a strong sense of personal value from their parents are left viewing themselves through the critical eyes of their peers. And what they see there is often disappointing.
Making embarrassing mistakes, feeling clumsy, going through the first love heart break or not doing everything right the first time is all part of being a teenager. But a teen with low self esteem takes every stumble personally and internalizes the failure as being part of who they are.
That’s why it is so important to help our kids survive their mistakes and deal with disappointments from an early age. Positive teen self esteem is crucial. The best way to improve your teen’s self-esteem is to take a very active role in your teen’s life.
It’s hard work when you have a job and your own issues to manage, but you brought this bright light into the world and it is up to you–and really “us” as a community–to ensure that bright light shines. Know your teen’s interests, friends, strengths, and weaknesses, so that you’ll be aware of any problems that may arise. You don’t have to become the gestapo but you could gain a lot of knowledge about your teen just through conversation.
If you have a teenager who is struggling with low self esteem, you have to take every opportunity to remind your son or daughter of what value they are to you and to others. Provide them with opportunities to be with people who will build them up and encourage them.
For more information and support about parenting your teen see the resources offered by Aurelia Williams who is a certified Parenting Coach and author of How You Can Help Your Teen To Be Successful In High School.