Low self esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views themselves as inadequate, incompetent and unloved. It propagates self-defeating behavior and produces faulty assumptions about oneself. Teenagers with low self esteem as easily pulled down. They find it awkward accepting praise always put themselves down. Parenting a child with low self esteem can lead to their transformation. First, you have to find the signs that your child has low self-esteem.
1. Walking with their head down and chin stuck on top of the chest
This is a physical expression of shame or embarrassment. By walking with their head down, they want to go unnoticed, mostly because they are afraid people will see their flaws. They also have a tendency to avoid eye contact with their elders and sometimes even other kids.
2. Negative “I am” statements
“I am ugly”, “I am not smart”, “I am not that good” Such negative “I am” statements portray devaluing of oneself. They portray a sense of inadequacy, incompetency and self-hate.
3. They make others feel bad/ Emotional bullies
People with low self-esteem make a habit of gossip, name calling and ridicule. They are usually the first to point out flaws about people especially if those people are in the spotlight for excellence in a particular field. They poke holes in success stories trying to make others feel bad about themselves.
4. Excessive bragging
People with low self esteem feel that they are inadequate. They feel as though other people view them as lower human beings or as undeserving. They therefore feel the need to overcompensate by trying too hard or by talking too much about their accomplishments or their favorite physical attribute.
5. Little physical activity or inappropriate physical activity
Low self esteem mostly comes from feeling physically inadequate. Either too big or too small. A teen with low self-esteem might avoid physical exercises at school, from ditching cross-country to refusing to join any athletic team. This mostly affects teens that feel that they are over-weight. Sometime, they engage in inappropriate physical activity, mainly pre-marital sex in a bid to get affirmation for their insecurities.
Low self esteem, if dragged into early twenties might cause a lot of hurt and damage to an individual. Parenting a teenager with low self-esteem requires care and assertion.
Here are four steps to parenting a child with low self-esteem.
1. Encouragement and constructive criticism
Teenagers feel insecure about a lot of things. They seek affirmation and at times, we react the wrong way. Encouraging them in a way that builds up their confidence for instance,
“Math is your stronghold, you have been brilliant from a young age. Just do more practice. You will get there.”
Choice of words and body language will go a long way to communicate to your child how you feel about them. Be sure they get the message that they are brilliant and beautiful in your eyes.
2. Teach them to make positive statements about themselves
My mother used to waltz into the living room in a new dress and we would compliment her. She would then go on to say,
“I do not think there is any woman more beautiful than I am.”
She would say that all the time. She would then tell me the same about myself. That I should know that too. To this day, I remember her words. Daily mantras, all with positive messages pertaining what was going on in our lives then, were also a tradition. Saying thing like, “I have all As” during exam week was a lesson of faith and positive confessions about oneself.
3. Encourage them to join co-curricular activities befitting their personalities
Encourage your talkative and argumentative teen to join the debate team, or the journalism club or both. The machete to join Math club and the science lover to join science club and even participate in the science congress. Do not just encourage joining, encourage participation and show them that you care by asking about their progress in these clubs. When a child is with people like them, people with the same interest(s) and likes, they get a sense of belonging. Clubs have a way of identifying and resonating with a person more than sitting in class or playing video games can. They encourage positive interaction and growth of a child’s strengths that help boost their self-esteem.
4. Lead by example
A child is your legacy. How you treat them, how you treat your partner, how you act when you think they are not watching, shapes them. The way you treat and value yourself matters. You are teaching them by example to value and treat themselves the same way.