DR ASHA PEMBERTON
Self-esteem is defined as the way in which an individual perceives him or herself; their thoughts and feelings about themselves and their ability to achieve. Self-esteem is the feeling of capability combined with inwardly directed love. Early in life, patterns of self-esteem develop. Infants who do not receive positive feedback have persisting feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. Conversely, those who feel supported, encouraged and unconditionally appreciated are more likely to respect themselves and have healthy self-esteem. Overall, there exists a delicate interplay between the individual, parents, experience, expectations and loving support.
ParentsBuilding healthy self-esteem in teens is a process. Adolescent development involves an undulating course of periods of doubt and times of elation. Parental strategies must mindfully take these into consideration, while consistently applying supervision and guidance.
Speak with kindnessWords matter. Teens are very sensitive to parents' words and these often become their inner voices. Praise your teen not only in the good times, but also reward effort and completion. Show respect and love for your teenagers. Parents who are excessively harsh, pessimistic, or unrealistic inadvertently create teens who devalue themselves and are less willing to express themselves.
Instill responsibility and purposeGive your teen a chance to show their capabilities and trust their abilities. Allow them to take on appropriate tasks and make effort. Activities which encourage co-operation rather than competition are especially helpful. A sense of contribution to school, church and community all reinforce a sense of purpose and belonging.
Create safetyChildren who feel unsafe or are abused will suffer immensely from low self-esteem. A young person who is exposed to violence or maltreatment is likely to become depressed and withdrawn. Always be on watch for signs of abuse by others, problems in school or with peers. Deal with these issues sensitively but swiftly.
A large part of teen development is learning exactly who you are and deciding your next steps in life. Practice mindfulness daily to create a sense of calm, reflect on your goals and analyse your thoughts or emotions on life occurrences.
The many changes of the teen years together with the highly visible images of perfection on social media sometimes create excessive self-criticism and doubt. We all have to accept ourselves while we strive constantly to be our best. Learning this delicate balance is integral to developing self-esteem as we work toward improvement.
Success feels good. One of the best ways to develop feelings of ability and achievement is to set a goal, work toward it and follow through. As young people the more positive things that you challenge yourself to do, the better you feel through the process. While not every attempt will be immediately successful, the journey of effort always reaps rewards.