Above all else, we want the teens we love to be happy. For this to happen, they have to feel good about themselves, but is there anything we can do to foster healthy self-esteem in the youth we serve, or is that a battle they have to fight on their own? Luckily, there are ways to help teens develop a healthy self-concept, and it isn’t simply telling them they are amazing. Here’s how:
Help Them Develop a Growth Mindset
One of the most potent opponents of positive self-esteem is a perfectionistic focus on performance. Instead, help the teenagers in your life develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset means that their overarching goal is personal development, not perfection. It means that your teens understand that skills and abilities aren’t handed out to them, but are the product of their own hard work and determination. Most of all, it means that failure is not a permanent reflection on themselves, but a catalyst to overcome their challenges.
Encourage Them to Try New Things
Help your teens develop a love for trying new things. This is the only way to find hidden passions and unknown aptitudes. Furthermore, help them know that they don’t even have to be good at these new activities to enjoy them. Finding moderate success at new things, whether or not they love it or become an instant expert, is a great way to boost self-esteem. Simply accomplishing something that feels scary or hard can offer a deep sense of pride and satisfaction in oneself.
Work on Reframing
Reframing is a valuable skill that can help in any area of your teen’s life, including developing a growth mindset and being willing to try new things. The first step to reframing is to truly believe that everything we think isn’t necessarily true. Or, it may only be one part of the picture. While it is easy to hone in on the negative, self-defeating thoughts that we have, the trick is to learn how to actively exchange these thoughts for more empowering ones.
Self-esteem isn’t something that you can give to anyone else. It doesn’t come through praise or by carefully limiting your teens’ experiences to only those things that they excel at. However, self-esteem can be fostered with a growth mindset, a willingness to try new things, and by practicing positive self-talk.
Do you love to work with teens and want someplace to make a real difference? Click here to learn about how to become a youth mentor at New Pathways for Youth!