All parents want their teenagers to grow into happy and successful adults. Many think it starts with a strong education, but it actually begins with something more basic. A good education certainly opens many doors, but it is your son or daughter’s level of self-esteem and self-confidence that will better determine how far he or she goes in life.
To be clear, self-esteem is how you feel about yourself while self-confidence is your ability to believe in yourself and is related to your actions. Self-esteem affects self-confidence, and vice versa. Teens who possess these strengths are much less likely to make poor decisions, succumb to negative peer pressure and suffer depression.
Some teens display obvious signs of low self-esteem and self-confidence while others are harder to read. Whether your son or daughter has a full tank, half tank or low tank of these traits, remember that you pump most of the fuel.
Here are five ways recommended by Marine Military Academy to build your teen’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
Sports & activities
Sign up your teenager for a sport or activity that interests him or her. It can be soccer or it can be singing, but allow your child to choose. If your son or daughter’s school does not offer a particular sport or activity, then search for it in your community. In addition to the simple pleasure of playing or performing, sports and activities offer other benefits, such as stress relief, teamwork skills and new friends.
A sport or activity can also help your son or daughter discover his or her passion. People become very good at things they like. Once your child finds something he or she is good at, the self-esteem and self-confidence will spike.
Have your teenager join a club or organization that is meaningful to him or her. It does not matter if it is the Drama Club or Boy Scouts. Clubs and organizations offer additional outlets for teens to explore, and they help build teens the same way sports and activities do.
Clubs and organizations also have fundraisers, so your son or daughter will probably need to sell something at some point. Selling is uncomfortable for many people, but it actually builds self-esteem and self-confidence. Teens learn to try and not let the fear of rejection stop them from reaching their goals.
Be sure your son or daughter performs community service several times a year. It can be with the school’s National Honor Society, a church youth group or just you. Helping others fosters a sense of gratitude, and it provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Plus, teenagers are often charged with duties and responsibilities when they volunteer, and this helps them feel respected and empowered.
Because it helps them feel better about themselves, giving back is a great way to develop self-esteem and self-confidence.
Correct your teenager immediately when he or she is displaying poor manners. Showing courtesy and reverence to others is important, and it reflects good self-esteem and self-confidence. After all, standing up straight, looking people in the eye and extending a firm handshake requires some self-assurance — as does saying “thank you,” “pardon me” and “please.”
Good manners will help your son or daughter feel comfortable in social situations and be treated as an adult.
Send your teenager to an overnight summer camp that is at least two weeks long. Camp offers a healthy growing experience that will boost the self-esteem and self-confidence of your son or daughter.
Besides the pure fun, camp teaches teens courage and independence. It may require them to face their fears, reach out to the camp counselors and/or problem-solve when they need something. Either way, they learn to overcome challenges without the aid of their parents.
Camp is not just to entertain adolescents but to help them become more sure of themselves. Military adventure camps are particularly good at accomplishing this task.
As a parent, you need to do more than follow this advice … you need to set the example. Always show your teenager what good self-esteem and self-confidence looks like. Staying positive, never giving up and asserting yourself politely in public are just a few things that your son or daughter will model in time.
Marine Military Academy is a college-preparatory boarding school for young men in grades 8-12 with an optional post-graduate year. To learn more, visit MMA-TX.org.