Lack of confidence in who we are, how we fit into the world, and in our ability to handle a crisis can play a role in the development of an anxiety disorder.
According to Julia Friederike Sowislo of the Department of Psychology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, low self-esteem was equally effective at raising the risk of anxiety as anxiety was at decreasing self-esteem. For this reason, I feel it is especially important for parents of teenagers to be mindful of the relationship their children have with themselves. A positive self image can have a huge impact on how teenagers handle stress, conflict, and the ever increasing pressures and demands of the world, when they become adults.
For teenagers, self-esteem issues most often stem from concerns over their appearance — which is perfectly understandable, since their bodies are transitioning and transforming at this important stage of development.
This article will discuss five ways you can help boost your teenager’s self-esteem by helping them appreciate their bodies and express their feelings.
1. Encourage your child to exercise, play sports — and meditate.
Childhood obesity is an alarming trend in America, affecting 20% of school age children. Not only does this have implications for their health later in life, but it could be taxing them emotionally even now.
You can help your child establish an active lifestyle at an early age. Sign them up for a team sport or running club — not only will they exercise, but they may also find new friends. Meditation has also proven to be an effective approach to weight management.
Studies have shown that those who lose weight and keep it off are the ones who do the inner work of exploring their motivations and overcoming the self-image issues that often lead to obesity.
2. Eat healthy.
Maintaining a healthy weight is one-half exercise, and one-half diet. According to recent studies, an alarming 90% of Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, and therefore lack basic nutrients and vitamins.
By establishing healthy eating habits early, your children will be more likely to continue their routine even after they move away from home.
3. Hobbies keep the mind active and creative.
Teenage body image issues aren’t the only factor in low self-esteem. Sometimes, the teenager can feel helpless, particularly about where they fit in the world. This can be compounded if they have siblings or friends who seem to have found their niche and are excelling in it.
You can help your teen discover their strengths and then encourage them to pursue them. Whether show strengths in arts, science, sports, or whatever field, try to find extracurricular activities that your teenager will be able to hone their skills at and come to enjoy.
4. Communication is key.
Parenting teenagers mean you need to be prepared to have effective communication with your teenager. Patience, support, and encouragement are your cornerstones.
Your teen needs to learn how to communicate as well — reading, writing, and oral communication competency are huge factors in building up their self-esteem.
Because success is often driven on how well someone can read, write, and speak, if your teenager feels that they fail at one or all of these requirements, it may cause them to cave in on themselves.
Take the time to either find them a tutor or other resources that can help develop these skills. Once your teenager feels that they are capable of effectively communicating, their confidence will improve.
5. Seek professional advice.
Sometimes you are not prepared to give the kind of care that your teenager needs. That’s completely fine. If your child starts to harm themselves, has frequent dark thoughts, or if you suspect them of bulimia or anorexia, then you should consider taking them to a therapist.
There is no shame in seeking outside help — these are trained professionals who have devoted their lives to helping teenagers.