In educating our youths about self-awareness, we can begin to help them cultivate self-esteem in a world of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ and social media frenzy. Consequently, self-esteem is tied to physical and mental wellbeing.
Enter Connie Bobo: The Founder and Executive Director of New Heights Community Resource Center and Mind Your Mission, which serve underprivileged communities through capacity building and implementation of quality programs.
We sat down with her to discover her commentary on National Teen Self Esteem Month — and we were enthralled by the simplicity and authenticity of her advice.
About National Teen Self Esteem Month
We all remember our teenage years with nostalgia for our younger days, but we can all attest to the hard times that came with them. Puberty, bullying, and general confusion mingle throughout that age range for every generation. Whether we are reminded of that by parenting teens now or having a teen in our lives, it is a truth we all know well.
According to Awareness Days, “On top of the physical, hormonal and emotional changes going on, teens also have to contend with the added pressures of social changes, new relationships, increased educational expectations, peer pressure, and impossible societal standards perpetuated by the media, society, and, often, parents.”
Even adults struggle with self-esteem, so we must take time this month to support our teens with theirs, as that age is incredibly delicate.
How to Help Your Teen or Teens in Your Life
While simple, the following suggestions (adapted from Awareness Days with commentary by Ms Bobo) take practice. They recommend that we lead by example, practice the following habits, and in doing so, we can support our teens’ self-esteem as well as our own.
Avoid Negative Self-Talk and Criticism.
‘Self-talk’ is what we say to ourselves in our heads — often unconsciously. For example, if you break a piece of dishware by accident, you might tell yourself you are clumsy or stupid when it was an honest mistake that does not dictate who you are.
“Some of us do this so much and make such a habit of it that we can’t tell we’re doing it!” said Ms Bobo. “It is important that we nip it in the bud starting today. I fully endorse positive affirmations as a way to start this process. Write something you love about yourself on a sticky note and place it where you’ll see it daily, or write a new one every morning in your journal. It does wonders over time.”
Consider asking your teen to name something they love about themselves each day. If your teen is less forthcoming, it can be helpful to start by sharing yours for the day!
Practice Open Lines of Communication.
Communication isn’t just talking. Watching a TV show and chatting about the plot is a significant first step if that’s where your journey is currently. However, if you and your teen already do this, but both blow up at the slightest interpersonal infraction most times, the lines of communication are down.
“Communication is key; that cliché will always be true,” said Ms Bobo. “But often, we don’t know how to achieve it or make it happen. Family therapy is a great resource, but if that is out of your ability, try telling the other person how you feel rather than what you want them to do or not do. It can take time, but by listening to your inner self and their feelings and trying to put yourself in their shoes, you can make huge strides in your relationship.”
Trust Yourself and Be Reliable.
Being trustworthy is a huge factor in the self-esteem of a teenager. If you show up on time for your teen and follow through on your word, your teen feels safe in your care. Remember, even though they are starting to look like tiny adults, they are still young and need our love.
“Show up, put your best foot forward,” said Ms Bobo. “If you can’t do this for yourself, you create an unbalanced terrain for your teen that makes them feel uneasy and non-self assured. It may translate at first like they blame you – and don’t worry, they will do so one day – but it also creates lasting harm that they will turn inward for years to come. Try to make it a habit only to make promises you know you can keep. A teenager will always prefer you to say, ‘I can’t,’ than say you can, only to backtrack.”
Trust Them Too! (Within Reason).
Teenagers are a sneaky bunch, but with too many rules, they shut down and act out. This control can sometimes translate to a fear that they will never be good enough, and they may act out for attention or even pretend they are hyper-confident when the opposite is true.
“Compliment your teen. Let them wear things they like to wear and express their personality in visual or performative ways,” said Ms Bobo. “Gone are the days of cookie-cutter ‘Leave it to Beaver’ children. We live in a world inspired by every country on the planet through the internet. Trust that your teen will make good decisions and let the beautiful world around them influence them.”
We think Ms Bobo’s wise commentary is a flawless start to building up the self-esteem of your teenager or teens in your life and a great path to forging your own self-esteem if you are lacking. Please remember, a national awareness month is to get you thinking and started — don’t stop come June!
Connie Bobo is the Founder and Executive Director of both New Heights Community Resource Center and Mind Your Mission. Ms. Bobo holds degrees in Education and Corporate Communications and is a Certified Nonprofit Professional, Technical Assistant, and Professional Development Instructor. She has over two decades of experience serving underprivileged communities through capacity building and implementing quality programs. An expert at business funding, nonprofit coaching, and creating professional development seminars, she can be reached through her website at https://www.infinitewisdombiz.com/.