Almost all parents want the best for their children and good self-esteem is crucial for everyone. And confidence and self-esteem are closely related and for a child to have good self-confidence they need good self-esteem.

What is self-esteem and how do you get it and get it for your teenager?

Self-esteem is confidence in one’s own worth and abilities. It’s about recognising our strengths and weaknesses and being ok about both.

As children we are carefree, taking in the world around us, living in the moment. We are learning so much in those first few years. Learning to walk, talk, and eat amongst other things. We are like sponges, absorbing everything around us.

As we grow up listening to what others think of us, we are forming opinions of ourselves. Society and communities are active in moulding our aspirations in what we aspire to be and do.

We are confirming or rejecting ideas of who we are by looking at those closest to us. This forms the basis of our self-esteem/self-worth.

As a parent, if you are positive and encouraging teenagers to feel good about them, this helps in building their self-esteem.

1. Identifying what they are good at, to build self-esteem

To begin building your self-esteem, identify what you’re good at. What you do well, or what you do, that other people appreciate. It can be something small but it has to be something. Remember self-esteem is also about feeling good about ourselves independent of external results. So we are just as comfortable knowing what we are not good at.

2. When praising your teenager tell them exactly what they are good at and why

Just saying “Oh you are great”, isn’t enough. Tell them exactly why they are great. If they’re playing sports it might be because they never give up. Or if they are good at expressing themselves, telling them the way in which they express themselves is key. It is at the same time teaching them how to give compliments to others. Maybe they have great dress sense and they are fantastic at putting colours together. When praising get specific.

3. Let praise in and boost your self-esteem

Being able to receive compliments is important for those seeking to build their self-esteem. And how we receive compliments is a reflection of our self-esteem and deep feelings of self-worth.

If someone says to you ‘Hey you really nailed that talk you gave.”

Say, “Thank you, I really enjoyed giving it as well.” NOT “Oh anyone can do that.”

Accepting compliments in an authentic manner builds your sense of self-worth. So if compliments are lacking in your life, take action to bring them into your daily experience by demonstrating your abilities and opening yourself up to positive feedback. Also, remember giving yourself compliments is most important.

4. Encourage teenagers aspirations

Self-esteem is not fuelled by hope—“I’ll be the greatest by next week”. It’s fuelled by doing and experiencing competence and ability, and deserving feedback. Challenging teenagers gently on how they are planning to reach their goals, and helping them put a step by step action plan in place. They can then see how they are progressing and enjoy their journey to achieving their goals. Hence building their self-esteem as they go along.

5. Teach teenagers how to get success from stress

Start writing about your worries. Because research shows that writing for about ten minutes about your worries regarding, for example, a presentation, an exam or a sports match can dampen your anxiety and self-doubt. In these studies, it was found that students writing about their worries before an exam performed 15% better than students who did not write before an exam.