Discover four factors that can affect your teen’s self-esteem — and what you can do to help make their experience a positive one!
How well do you remember your teenage years?
With hormonal changes and the pressures of school life, there may have been times when your self-esteem was negatively affected. And the same is true of your teen. If you have noticed changes in their mood recently, they might be suffering from serious confidence issues. Especially if they return home from school with a less than happy attitude, and if they act sensitively around you, then you know that something is going on inside their minds.
Low self-esteem in teens is common, and while they might regain their confidence levels again when their hormonal levels stop fluctuating, it’s still worth talking to your teens and offering your support.
The following are just some of the factors that can affect your teen’s self-esteem. You can probably identify with some of them yourself if you can remember your own teenage years.
As children transition between schools, friendships can change. The pals your teen had when they were in middle school might have moved on after moving to high school. It might be then that your teen has no real friends to rely on, or they might have always had difficulty making friends. It could be that your teen does have friends, but if they are less than reliable, or if they are overly-critical to your sensitive teen, then they aren’t the best people for your teen to have in their social group.
For any of these reasons, your teen can struggle with low self-esteem.
So what can you do to help?
Well, you could encourage your teen to take more after-school activities. They will have more opportunities for social interaction this way, and they might meet people who share the same interests as they do. You might also check with your teen’s school, as they might have special groups available to help those teens who struggle with social situations.
#2: Body image
When puberty kicks in, your teen will go through all kinds of bodily changes. They might develop quicker than others, or they might actually experience the reverse. Either way, your teen’s self-esteem might be affected as a consequence.
Your teen might also suffer from low self-esteem if they experience weight issues, have problems with their teeth, and if their body odor is less than fragrant. Of course, these issues are exacerbated by the bullying comments of others, so if they didn’t have body image issues before, they will when they hear the nasty comments of others.
What can you do to help?
For starters, you need to explain that some of the changes they are going through are normal, including those adolescent body smells. Look for videos online or pick up any educational booklets that will help you explain the developmental stages of puberty.
You can also seek the help of the professionals. A school counselor will talk to your teen about their body image issues. A dental specialist in orthodontics and braces can help your teen recover their smile. And a doctor or nutritionist can support your teen with their weight issues.
You should also be on the lookout for signs of eating disorders where weight issues are concerned, as many teens become prone to them when their confidence levels take a nosedive. If you spot any signs, seek help for your teen immediately.
#3: Social media
How much time does your teen spend on social media? Chances are, they are glued to their phones right now, and while this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you do need to know that it could also be responsible for your teen’s ow self-esteem.
Well, it’s worth knowing that a lot of bullying takes place on social media. If other youngsters have posted comments about your teen, or if they have shared less than flattering pictures, this is obviously going to damage your teen’s confidence levels.
Your teen might also compare themselves unfavorably to others. This is common anyway, especially in the school environment, but it can be exacerbated online when your teen scrolls through the pictures and posts of people they know. They might feel less attractive than others, and they might assume their lives are not as exciting as their peers.
So, what can you do to help?
For starters, you need to have open conversations with your teen about bullying. This should be something you do anyway, regardless of whether the bullying takes place online or not.
Assuming your teen has invited you onto their social media networks, you should also keep an eye on what is being said about your teen. If you notice anything troubling, you should talk to your teen and even take matters to their school if necessary.
You might also remind your teen that people exaggerate their lives on social media, so while others might have seemingly more exciting lives, this probably isn’t true at all.
And you should also remove your teen’s attention from their social media accounts every now and again. By creating more opportunities for social activities as a family, your teen won’t spend hours of their day scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other networking sites they are a part of.
Sorry to say it, but you could be the reason behind your teen’s low self-esteem.
You might be the embarrassing mom who kisses them when dropping them off at the school gates. Or you might do something else that embarrasses your teen in front of their peers. While you might assume your actions are harmless, they could be the reason why others bully your teen.
You might be overly-critical too. If you aren’t happy with your teen’s choices, you might use unkind words to scold and put them down. Not only will you be faced with a slammed door should you anger them, but you will also be faced with a teen with built-up resentments against you.
So, what should you do?
Well, stop embarrassing your teen for one. And then be more sensitive in the way you talk to them. It might be that you have to accept their life choices, so you might want to be more supportive if these choices aren’t harmful. And if your teen is making bad decisions, try to talk to them with kindness instead of criticism, as not only they respond better to you this way, but they won’t feel as wounded either.
Today then, be sensitive to how your teen might be feeling. Talk to them if they appear down or sensitive, and support them with the issues they are facing. And if you have any other pieces of advice for moms reading this article, be sure to share your suggestions below.