This Parenting Practice Will Boost Your Teen’s Self Esteem
Your daughter’s self esteem is fragile. Between the ages of 11 and 14 self-esteem tends to take a nose-dive. At this stage, girls become more aware of their bodies and start comparing themselves to others. By age 14, self-esteem may drop further. Peer pressure, the influences of social media, and increased academic pressure tend to have a negative impact on the way your teen views herself.
While there are many ways to protect your daughter from low self-esteem, there is one simple and powerful parenting practice that has long-lasting effects.
The Oxford Dictionary defines appreciation as “recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” In other words, it is when you acknowledge something your teen has done well and/or you recognize her positive inner qualities.
This sounds simple, but in the day-to-day, it’s common for parents to forget about appreciation. Instead, their focus is on:
- The things their teen needs to improve or what they are not doing.
- Their teen’s accomplishments and achievements (not the qualities or behaviors that lead to those outcomes).
When your focus is on changing your teen’s behavior, she is more likely to feel that she is not good enough. She may even resort to negative attention-seeking behavior in a quest for validation. When you praise her accomplishments and achievement, rather than the qualities that lead to those outcomes, she can start to believe that only outcomes matter and that the process or character that helped her achieve those outcomes are not important. Over time, she loses connection with her inner qualities and starts to believe she needs to perform for the approval of others.
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That all changes when you show your appreciation.
Appreciation works because it feeds your teen’s sense of security and belonging. Your appreciation assures your teen that she is seen, heard, and valued as a member of the family and society. It shows her how her behavior and character impact others in a deep, positive way. Your teen starts to connect and value her true self. She develops more motivation to treat others with understanding and respect.
Appreciation in Action
Appreciation can be shared verbally or in a written note. The following is a simple formula for showing genuine, meaningful appreciation:
- Acknowledge the behavior with a thank you or validation
- Express how the behavior impacted you or the positive outcome it will have for your teen
- Use the words appreciate, value, or admire to highlight your inner quality, strength, or value reflected in the behavior
It might sound like this:
Thank you for helping out with the laundry. I’ve been so stressed with work and now I have more time to finish up a few things. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Thank you for getting your homework done without asking. It must feel good to have it out of the way. I know it can be hard to get started and I admire your commitment to learning.
I noticed that you handled that hard situation with your friend with empathy. What you said to her showed you understand her point of view. I bet she appreciated that. You really know what it means to be a good friend.
Benefits of Appreciation
In addition to boosting your teen’s self-esteem, appreciation has other positive benefits. It supports an overall family atmosphere of happiness and security. It also teaches your teen how to show appreciation to others.
For more insight on appreciation and printable notes of appreciation, get your copy of A Year in Focus journal. This is a perfect resource for parents, teens, and young adults.