May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month. Thinking about self-esteem makes me think about Fred Rogers.
“I hope you’re able to grow to respect whoever you are inside.” Fred Rogers
Anyone else watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a kid like I did? I remember enjoying this show so much… until I didn’t. I used to blame it on feeling like I was too old to keep watching it. “It’s a show for babies.” As I think back to that time, I’m convinced it had more to do with me not taking Fred Rogers at his word anymore. I stopped believing all the nice things he was saying about me, things that couldn’t possibly be true. The negative experiences of my childhood had made receiving kindness really challenging.
Kindness was Fred Rogers’ superpower. While kindness to others is important, we often forget that being kind to ourselves should be a thing too.
Self-esteem impacts people of all ages. Because of the lifetime of negative consequences poor self-image can lead to, it’s especially important to instill positive self-worth at an early age. Fred Rogers knew that, and it’s a great reminder for all of us.
Teen self-esteem struggles.
What if our kids are not giving us a hard time, but having a hard time?
I stumbled across the above quote on a recent Instagram scroll, and it really resonated with me. As parents, we often forget what it feels like to be a teenager. The teen years are usually a difficult time for the majority of young people. There are so many changes going on: physical, hormonal, and emotional. Teens also have to deal with the added pressures of social and relationship issues, peer pressure, and increased academic expectations. Like so many of us, teenagers are constantly bombarded with impossible societal standards by the media. Parents can often unknowingly add to the overwhelm by piling on their own set of impossible standards their teen must meet.
That’s one of the reasons why kindness is such a big deal.
Ways to encourage healthy self-esteem in teens.
Two out of three of my kiddos are teens, so I decided to see if they had any thoughts about self-esteem. Here are some things they shared about what others do/don’t do that helps them feel better about themselves:
- Being heard. Wanting to know what your teen thinks is important, because the less people want to hear what teens have to say, the less teens will value their voices.
- Catching them when they do things well, and tell them. Sometimes people have a hard time seeing what they do well. Don’t assume your teen knows–tell them.
- Supporting them in their passions, especially when trying out new things. Trying a new haircut, clothing style, etc. is a big deal. Supporting teens in the midst of their struggles to figure things out, and the self-expression struggles that go along with that helps them feel loved.
- Don’t blame/shame them for opinions/preferences that differ from yours. Don’t use shame as a teaching tool. Shame is never a good strategy.
- Mean what you say. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. Don’t talk down to teens. Treat them like human beings.
May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month.
Sponsored by I Am Worth More, a nonprofit that connects teens to resources and helps them increase their positive entertainment intake, National Teen Self-Esteem Month unites teens, parents, and teachers all around the country.
National Teen Self-Esteem Month provides an opportunity for people to come together and focus on the importance of supporting teens—helping them voice their needs, share their perspectives, and build a healthy outlook of themselves.
This initiative is a great reminder to help us check-in and make sure we’re doing everything we can to support and nurture the teens in our lives.
Every month should be Self-Esteem Month.
I really loved this definition of self-worth I found. Dr. Christina Hibbert writes, “The ability to comprehend and accept my true value — to understand I am more than my mind, body, emotions, and behaviors. To see myself as God sees me, to accept his love for me, and to learn to love myself in like manner.”
It’s hard to love someone that you feel isn’t worth it, and that includes yourself.
“Love others as well as you love yourself.” Mark 12:31 MSG
One final note. This is for teens, from this parent of teens, who still remembers what it was like to be a teen so very long ago. I remember the pain and struggle. It never ceases to amaze me how I survived all the darkness and turmoil that surrounded me back then. On behalf of parents, guardians, and caregivers everywhere:
I see you. You matter, and are treasured. Your fears, insecurities, and struggles do not make you any less important. What’s important to you is important to us. Mistakes do not define you. Your opinions and ideas are valued. You are accepted, and loved. We believe in you, and are in it with you no matter what.