The development of a positive self-esteem is extremely important to the happiness and success of adolescents. Self-esteem is how young people feel about themselves – and their behavior clearly reflects those feelings! For example, a teenager with high self-esteem will be able to tolerate frustration, take pride in her accomplishments, attempt new tasks and challenges, handle positive and negative emotions, assume responsibility, and act independently – all the traits that parents want their teens to have!!!
15 steps you can take to help your teen develop high self-esteem (and as a happy bi-product, improve his or her behavior as well):
1. Help your adolescent learn from her mistakes. Give her constructive criticism when she attempts to resolve a particular problem, because she is taking responsibility and learning from it. When dealing with mistakes, assist your adolescent in identifying the problem, and then brainstorm solutions together. Allowing her to brainstorm with you will build her confidence and push her to become more involved in making positive changes in her life.
2. Encourage your teenager to ask for what he wants assertively, pointing out that there is no guarantee that he will get it. Reinforce him for asking, and avoid anticipating his desires.
3. Show your adolescent that it is perfectly acceptable to make mistakes, and it is sometimes best to laugh at the mistakes. At times, it's better to find humor than to focus on the negativity that surrounds slip-ups and blunders. This will prevent your adolescent from dwelling on his mistakes and allow him to move forward and achieve success in where he made an error.
4. Encourage your teenager to behave toward herself the way she would like her friends to behave toward her.
5. Encourage your teenager to develop hobbies and interests which give him gratification and which he can pursue independently.
6. Have your adolescent set realistic goals, while encouraging him and praising him for achieving these goals. Assist your adolescent in reaching goals which he can fulfill. Reaching his goals will foster a sense of accomplishment. Your adolescent also learns that nothing is impossible – if he just tries.
7. Consider positive self-talk. Have your adolescent verbally say good things about herself. Point out your adolescent's strengths (e.g., sports that she is good at, subjects she has a strong knowledge of, etc.). Reinforce them when she encounters negativity and assist her in taking pride in her own accomplishments. The ability to identify positive things about herself is an important part of building high self-esteem.
8. Help your teenager develop tease tolerance by pointing out that some teasing can’t hurt. Help him learn to cope with teasing by ignoring it while using positive self-talk (e.g., “names can never hurt me,” “teasing has no power over me,” “if I can resist this joker, then I’m building emotional muscles,” etc.).
9. Help your teenager think in terms of alternative options and possibilities rather than depending on one option for fulfillment. A teen who has only one friend and loses that friend is friendless. However, a teen who has many friends and loses one, still has many. This same principle holds true in many different areas. Whenever you think there is only one thing which can please you, you limit your potential for being content! The more you help your teenager realize that there are many options in every circumstance, the more you increase her potential for fulfillment.
10. Laugh with your teenager and encourage him to laugh at himself. Adolescents who take themselves too seriously are undoubtedly decreasing their enjoyment in life. A good sense of humor and the ability to make light of life are important ingredients for increasing a teenager’s overall quality of life.
11. Always be generous with praise. Look for occasions when your adolescent has displayed a new talent, accomplished a new task, acted unselfishly, or has demonstrated positive character traits. Praising your adolescent for a job well done fosters her independence and encourages her to think positively, because she knows she is doing a good job.
12. Let your teenager know she creates - and is responsible for - any feelings she experiences. Similarly, she is not responsible for other people’s feelings. Avoid blaming your teenager for how she feels.
13. When possible, let your teenager settle his own disputes between siblings and/or peers.
14. Allow your adolescent to make decisions on his own. Praise good decisions, but also allow him to take ownership of his own mistakes so he can learn from it. Don't always solve your teen’s problems for him, otherwise he will always depend on you when something goes awry. Try some “decision-making skill” exercises (e.g., making a list and weighing the consequences of each outcome). Letting your adolescent make his own choices promotes self-esteem because it empowers him and increases his confidence level.
15. Teach your teenager to change her “demands” to “preferences.” Point out to her that there is no reason she MUST get everything she wants, and that she need not feel angry either. Encourage her to work against anger by setting a good example and by reinforcing her when she displays “appropriate irritation” rather than anger.
Adolescence is a turbulent time. Teenagers go through many changes during this time of their life. Factors such as hormones, moods and peer pressure can often influence a teenager's decisions. As a result, they may make bad choices, resulting in undesirable behavior and constant negativity. Having a positive self-esteem means you have pride in yourself and in what you do. Teenagers that have high self-esteem are filled with confidence and determination – and can make the right choices in life and become well-adjusted grown-ups.
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