The teenage years are filled with new life experiences. Fostering healthy self-esteem in your teen empowers them to face these new experiences with confidence and resilience. It also helps them to establish responsible patterns of behavior and decision-making that will support their personal wellbeing, professional careers, relationships, and more. Your parenting decisions, including those related to financial parenting, can have a considerable impact on your teen’s self esteem. With the help of child development specialist, Jennifer Dunn, we offer some key points on how to support and inspire self-esteem for teens.
Developing Independence and Freedom
Your teen needs a secure, loving base as they learn the adult skills inherent in new life lessons like getting a job, establishing a bank account, etc. Good self-esteem provides a solid foundation for increased freedom and independence. A teen with strong self-esteem:
- Acts independently and responsibly.
- Exhibits good problem-solving skills.
- Can critically evaluate the consequences of actions.
- Assumes healthy risks, while denying unsafe ones.
- Accepts responsibility for mistakes.
- Paying your teen an allowance promotes both money management skills and increased personal and financial independence. As your teen’s financial acumen improves, expand financial freedoms by layering on additional purchase responsibilities and increasing their allowance.
Discovering Areas of Competency
Everyone has a talent and needs to feel they do something well. A teenager with healthy self-esteem is open to new tasks and challenges and demonstrates resilience in handling criticism or disappointment. They take pride in their efforts and achievements, and are motivated by success.
Part-time work, a summer job, or internship offers benefits beyond basic earnings, including insights into potential careers, expanded work and life skills, and a boost for your teen’s self-esteem.
Volunteering typically entails lower expectations than paid work so it’s a good starting point for teens in need of self-confidence. Volunteer work can also reinforce family values, if philanthropy is important to you.
Hobbies and activities offer your teen an avenue to explore self-identity, boosting self-esteem as competency increases.
Avoiding Comparisons to Others
Positive self-esteem enables your teen to value their uniqueness. This is especially important in helping to mitigate peer pressure, which begins in the tween years, peaks during the mid-teens, and finally wanes around age 17-18.
Managing peer pressure typically requires compromise. Your kids need to understand that they don’t need to have all the same things as their friends, while you need to make some concessions so that your kids fit in. These decisions can weigh heavily on family finances. Consider requiring your kids to pay for select items like name brand clothing, from their allowance or from part-time work, either at home or outside of the house.
Encourage your teen to feel valued (by you, other family members, peers, and the broader community). Teach them to be assertive and stand up for themselves, others, and causes they support. Activities outside of your child’s school community can provide new social outlets, through sports, hobbies, or by the teen years, volunteer work or part-time employment.
For many parents, social media is a distinct peer pressure concern. However, research seems inconclusive regarding its true impact on teen self-esteem . While you should monitor online activity, remember that social media can provide your teen with a support system of like-minded peers, and offers a platform for self-expression and for staying connected in an ever-connected world.
Recognizing That Self-Value Extends Beyond Looks
This is an especially important issue if you have a daughter. Young women in particular are bombarded with gendered stereotypes and body imagery that can negatively impact their confidence and self-esteem .
Reinforce positive self-value and self-esteem in your teen in the following ways:
- Solicit their opinion – adolescents want to be treated like adults. Promoting greater financial independence as your children age can be critical toward this goal.
- Set realistic goals to promote success.
- Be generous with praise – of effort, not just success. It might not seem like it sometimes, but your teen still values your recognition and love far more than financial rewards, although financial rewards can be appropriate, or a strong incentive, in some circumstances.
- Encourage pride in a job well done.
- Balance saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, to allow latitude for right – or wrong – decisions.
- Keep criticism constructive.
- Utilize learnable moments e.g., if your teen runs out of allowance, use it as an opportunity to discuss better budgeting skills and the fundamentals of borrowing.
Learning to Care – About Themselves as Well as Others
Being a teenager can be exciting and fun. It can also be emotional and stressful. A teen with healthy self-esteem cares about themselves, as well as others. In addition to focusing on physical wellbeing by eating well and exercising, remember to:
- Nurture mental well-being with positive reinforcement techniques like self-talk, journaling, or meditation.
- Develop coping strategies e.g., quiet time, socializing, laughing, keeping busy, or helping others.
- Promote volunteerism, gaining exposure to other life perspectives and the goodness of sharing with others.
Helping guide your teen towards adulthood involves supporting every aspect of their personal growth and life learning. This includes fostering a healthy relationship with money. SageVest Kids is the brainchild of SageVest Wealth Management, a Northern Virginia based financial advisory firm with an emphasis on family finances and wise investing. Please contact us to learn more.