According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), one out of every eight children struggles with an anxiety disorder. The statistics are worse with teenagers: one out of every five teenagers experiences depression.
Low self-esteem and anxiety disorders may lead to children being less sure of themselves and their decisions when they become teenagers. It also restricts their growth into independence, lowers their “coping skills” or resilience to the impact of the world around them, and can damage their trust of themselves and of others. As moms, guarding our teenagers’ self-esteem is vital.
How Can We Safeguard our Teen’s Self-Esteem?
Don’t ask for perfection. Of course we want our teenagers to maximize their potential, to be the best that they can be! Unfortunately, sometimes we use measurements to encourage them, such as grades, scores, and perfect teeth. Instead, encourage your teen to consistently do his or her best and challenge themselves.
Don’t compare them to others. Automatically, teens compare themselves and their looks and abilities to others. They’re at the stage where they are learning who they are and what they like and dislike about themselves. Instead, praise them, their looks, and their abilities as an individual.
Don’t place negative labels on them. Because teenagers are at the point of learning and choosing who they want to be, labels have more power. They can only base who they are on their experiences and how others describe them. Labels have power to shape the path they take; if they accept the negative path, it can lower their independence and create worse habits.
That being said, as moms we want our teens to be healthy and maintain habits that will keep them in good health in the future. How do we do this without bringing up image?
Tips to Encourage Your Teens to be Healthy
Build up their self-esteem. Sometimes, especially if your teen is expressing more anxiety over his or her self-image than before, it’s best not to mention changes, even for health. Instead, focus on listening to your teen. What specific qualities or abilities are they comparing to others’? The more you know, the more you can encourage them.
Teach them self-care. Teens are very sensitive to words and actions. Know if they are doing certain actions (make-up, clothing choices) because they are reacting to what people say. Encourage them that doing something for themselves, something they like, is okay. Getting them a massage or haircut might be one way to help them do something for themselves.
After establishing that kind of relationship with your teen, it should be easier to introduce healthiness to them without making it about their image. At this point, they should understand that what they do for their health, they do for themselves and not for anyone else.
How Can You Encourage Your Teen to Get Dental Correction?
Your teen probably sees dentist appointments as a necessary evil, too regular to violently complain against. However, something more serious like correcting an overbite is a completely different question. Whatever contraption goes into their mouths will affect their image, one way or another. Be sympathetic of this, and present its health benefits instead.
Misaligned teeth weaken them. When teeth are misaligned, they tend to rub against each other from the front or the back. In this way, they rub away at the enamel, the hard outer part of the tooth that protects it from cavities. This not only thins the teeth and weakens them until they are prone to chipping, it also makes the teeth more prone to cavities.
Misaligned teeth may cause jaw pain. Misaligned teeth automatically create difficulties in chewing that cause the jaw to move unnaturally. Sometimes, with malocclusion, the jaw can’t handle the different stresses being placed on it, and it swells and causes constant pain.
Encourage your teen to look to the future, and also to think of their own dental health as something they do for themselves.
How Can You Encourage Your Teen to Do Skincare?
Naturally, if your teen is already doing skincare, this is not one of your challenges. However, if your teen is not doing skincare as part of a social protest or because it’s not accepted, encourage him or her to do it anyway. Sunblock at least should be a staple.
Skincare reduces risk of skin cancer. Sunburns are simple annoyances now, but even one really bad sunburn can lead to risk of skin cancer later on. Putting on at least sunblock before going under the sun, and regularly moisturizing the skin with different antioxidant vitamins, is one way to reduce that risk.
Skincare lessens wounds and promotes healing. Resilient, moisturized skin is skin that doesn’t wound easily. With skincare, your teen can enjoy stronger skin and faster-healing wounds and scratches. Organic brands, such as RawChemistry have declared it essential: “It’s a simple, basic need, easily slotted into your teen’s nightly or daily routine.”
Skincare can be a sensitive topic because it usually deals with the visible–the face, shoulders, and arms. Keep that in mind and emphasize the beauty of healthy skin as you encourage your teen to use it.
How Can You Encourage Your Teen to Exercise?
Your teen gets enough athletic comparison in physical education classes, whether or not they are into it. However, as we know, exercise isn’t about the best body or the most fans. It’s about longevity and long-term health. What should your teen know about exercise?
Exercise strengthens the heart and lungs. The heart is a muscle and should be exercised like any other muscle. Exercise strengthens the heart and clears the blood vessels. At the same time, it teaches the lungs to expand to full capacity and get the maximum amount of oxygen from the environment.
Exercise releases endorphins. Speaking of boosting self-esteem, one of the strongest helpers is the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are the hormones that trigger positivity and motivation in the brain. Exercise naturally releases these, so it is also an automatic boost to self-esteem and a lifter of mood.
Like skincare and dieting, exercise might have a negative view from our teens because of how others may make it about image. Encourage your teens to want it for themselves instead, and help them find ways to do even small but regular exercises in a safe environment.
Healthiness and High Self-Esteem Go Together
Our teens have multiple voices in their lives. We want ours to be the ones that encourage them to make wise and independent decisions for themselves. Self-esteem and healthiness are two qualities that, if we build them in our children, will uphold them in the years to come.