You have been saving for your teen’s college tuition for more than a decade. You have kept him on track in his studies. You have ferried him to countless soccer meets and football games. You may feel like you’re doing everything you can to ensure that your children have bright and promising futures, but you still may have overlooked a crucial element: their self-esteem.
Self-esteem is not something that should be pushed aside. In fact, a healthy sense of self-esteem is much more crucial to your teen’s future than you may initially think. Self-esteem is a measure of someone’s confidence in his or her capabilities as well as his or her sense of identity. It allows people to determine what they can and cannot do. Those with higher levels of self-esteem tend to feel more confident about their capabilities and therefore are more willing to take on challenges and try new things. They also are more likely to be independent and motivated, which is good for teenagers because it will allow them to better tackle the rigors of academics and college life.
Those with lower levels of self-esteem, however, are likely to be nervous, uncertain, dependent, and unmotivated. This is because they lack a sense of security in their capabilities, and therefore are more unwilling to do anything where failure is a possibility. Alarmingly, research cited by the Counseling and Mental Health Center of the University of Texas indicates that low levels of self-esteem can also increase a teen’s likelihood of becoming involved in drug use. For young women, unplanned pregnancies are more prevalent for those with low levels of self-esteem. Low self-esteem also can lead to the development of depression or anxiety.
Unfortunately, teenagers naturally have lower levels of self-esteem because they are going through numerous life changes and facing many new and uncertain things. For example, the onset of puberty, having to navigate high school politics, and moving away to tackle college are all uncertainties that can cause many teens to feel unsure about who they really are and who they will become. The overall result of all these changes is a shaken self-esteem.
It is important for parents to guide their teens through this confusing period so that they may regain the self-esteem they need to get through it all unscathed. You can do this by encouraging your teen to take care of himself. Good physical health can do wonders for mental health and self-esteem, so when your teen seems to be feeling bad about himself, go for a brisk walk with him. This will help him to get his muscles moving and perk his spirit up, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can also strive to praise him whenever he does something commendable, such as having a good soccer meet or receiving a good grade in class. The praise does not have to be over-the-top gushing each time. In fact, a simple, “Good job!” can improve a teen’s self-esteem dramatically.
All in all, parents can ensure that their teens have a healthy level of self-esteem by offering them support, love, and respect. This way, teens can develop a good sense of who they are and what they can do, leading to the bright and promising future you always wanted for them.