Between smartphones, the Internet and the TV, teens are constantly being bombarded with information. They see ads for products that promise to make them look "flawless" or they see photos of young celebrities with bodies and images that are nearly impossible for the average person to obtain. It's no wonder so many teens are depressed and feel as if they're "not good enough."
Now, more than ever, it's important to build self-confidence in our teens. I was reminded of this when talking to a friend, who was shopping for a nose job in Utah for her 16-year-old daughter. While I reserve judgement, I can't help but wonder if there's a better way. If her daughter felt comfortable and confident in her own skin, she wouldn't even consider plastic surgery.
Why Self-Esteem is Important for Teens
Self-confidence is important for teens – and everyone else – for many reasons. When teens understand that they are of value and have purpose, they are more likely to try something new and set ambitious goals.
Confident teens stand by their values and beliefs, and aren't easily swayed by others. They are less likely to give into peer pressure and more likely to make well-thought-out decisions.
Teens with self-confidence are better equipped to handle the disappointments and failures that are part of life.
How to Boost Your Teen's Confidence
Every parent wants to raise a confident, well-adjusted child, and there are several ways to help instill self-esteem in our teens.
Give Praise Freely
Some parents refrain from giving too much praise because they think they'll give their teen "a big head." But that's simply not true.
We're quick to tell our kids when they do something wrong, but we rarely praise them when they do things right. Praise should be given not only for achievements but also for effort. If they fail, offer them praise for putting in the effort.
Encourage Teens to Explore Talents and Interests
Everyone has a talent, and we all have a need to excel at something. Encourage your teen to explore her interests and talents. Let her follow her passion – whatever that may be.
As long as your teen's interests don't interfere with school work or break any laws, give her the opportunity to find her outlet for peer acceptance and finding her own identity.
Get Teens Involved in the Community
Teens want to feel accepted not only by friends and family but also by the community. Volunteer work is a great way to for teens to receive that positive feedback that helps build their self-confidence and make them feel good about themselves.
Use Constructive Criticism
If you must offer criticism, do it in a constructive way. Your first instinct may be to ridicule your child for missing a few questions on a test. Instead of being hurtful or demeaning, be encouraging. Tell her that a little extra studying will help her do better next time.
Help Teens Instill Healthy Habits
Instilling healthy habits in teens will help naturally build self-confidence. Help your teen develop a self-care routine that includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising and taking care of the body.