High school is tough. It can become difficult for many teens to juggle all of the responsibilities that come with academics, sports, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs. Alongside these, puberty, popularity, and the separation of friends can leave many teens feeling ugly, unwanted, lonely, and depressed. Many teens struggle to feel comfortable in their changing bodies as well as understand romantic feelings. Some teenagers make rash and even harmful decisions in the process of figuring out who they are and who they want to be friends with. Unfortunately, many teens don’t want to share their feelings with their parents and instead hide away in their bedrooms.
Helping your teenager feel confident in their own body and live a life with high self-esteem is important as they go through middle school, high school, and into the adult world. Here are six ways you can help your teen enhance their self-esteem.
1. Enhance Body Appreciation Through Complimenting Exercises
Body image issues are very common among high school-aged individuals. Between braces, acne, body odor, body hair, and the development of new body parts, there are many ways a teen may feel uncomfortable in their own body. Plus, with teens in the media looking much different than real-life teenagers, many high schoolers may feel compelled to try products and attain services that can “fix” how they look. For example, many individuals are interested in fillers, which can be injected into the face. As a result of genetics or the aging process, a person’s face can look less perky and defined. Fillers help restore volume deficits in the cheeks and improve contours. Watching young people in the media get fillers may tempt a teen to seek them, too.
To help your teen feel confident in the body they have, encourage them to compliment his/herself as they look in the mirror each day. “Your teeth are clean and healthy,” “this color top complements my eyes,” and “this hairstyle defines my jaw” are all wonderful compliments that may help enhance your teen’s self-esteem as the ritual becomes part of their daily routine.
2. Write in a Journal
One of the most basic ways to track your thoughts and feelings is by writing them down. Doodling allows for the expression of emotions, too. Help your teen pick out a journal or diary, and encourage them to write down what they’re feeling each day. Writing down both positive and negative thoughts allows everything to be put on the table and may help your teen process their feelings. Some journals are organized and include prompts and sentence starters to help individuals think about what to write, too. A structured journal may be something that could help your teen.
3. Make a Vision Board
Many teens have aspirations for their adult lives. Your teen may want to become a firefighter, join the Peace Corps, work their way up at the local grocery store, or attend college to become a teacher or doctor. However, some teens are resistant to dreaming because of feelings of shame and sadness. Sometimes, helping your teen discuss short and long-term goals can help them see that there is a future for them outside of high school.
Making a vision board may be a great activity you and your teen can tackle together. Find pictures in magazines and newspapers or print out pictures from the internet, arrange them on a poster board, and leave room to write titles and captions. If your teen wants to become a teacher, they may have pictures of a college campus, a classroom, a teacher working with children, an apple, and other teacher supplies. Personal dreams may be part of a vision board, too. If your teen has a dream of becoming a parent someday, they may include a picture of a child or a family. This activity can help your teen see what they are capable of achieving in the years to come.
4. Create a Self-Appreciation Chart
Oftentimes, negative thoughts overtake positive ones. The creation of a self-appreciation chart may be helpful for your teen to gain confidence and enhance their self-esteem. For example, if your teen is one of the four million Americans wearing braces, they may have negative thoughts about how they look, as many teens feel insecure in their braces. Instead of focusing on the negatives, encourage your teen to write down one good thing about him/herself each day on an index card or square piece of construction paper. Tack each of these notes on a bulletin board. Watching this board become filled with positive thoughts can help your teen see the beauty in his/herself and grow to feel more confident in who they are.
5. Create a Safe Space in Your Home
There were over four million cosmetic procedures that took place in the United States in 2017 — the highest number in the world. Unfortunately, many people value physical beauty and wealth over a person’s personality as well as basic human decency. This often causes individuals to seek medical treatments for the wrong reasons. Your teen may hate their nose, teeth, middle section, arms, or other parts of their body, and they may think that if they don’t fix it, they aren’t worthy of love from themself or others.
A teen’s mind is always whirling. Create a safe space in your home for your teen to talk about their insecurities, body image, and confidence levels. A quiet, dim area in the home dedicated to talking sessions can be helpful for a teen to stay in the safety of their home. Sometimes talking about it and receiving some helpful feedback from parents and siblings can feel reassuring for a teen who isn’t happy with how they look or feel.
6. Seek Professional Help
As much as parents want to help their teenagers through the difficult years in their life, it may not be realistic. If your teen’s behaviors lead you to believe there are greater issues at hand, discuss hiring professional treatment. A therapist or other mental health professional has the knowledge and tools to guide your teen in understanding and expressing their feelings efficiently.
Your teen may have a hard time understanding their own thoughts and feelings as they navigate high school. Provide the tools to help your teen feel more confident in who they are and what they look like. Self-esteem is important throughout a person’s life, and a teen who feels like they’re going through high school alone can suffer. Be cautious and gentle with your teen, and help them through the process of enhancing their self-esteem.