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Are You Helping or Hindering? Getting Them Ready for the World

Are You Helping or Hindering?
Getting Them Ready for the World
by Jennifer LB Leese

The way individuals feel about themselves is extremely important, but during adolescents it is especially significant. Feeling positive and self-confident helps us at work and at play.
The better adolescents feel about themselves, the less prone they are to give into peer pressure. Life is hard; why make it harder? This article is written to parents with the hopes of helping them help their teens .
As a mother of a teenager and two tweens, I feel it is my job to help them grow up to be independent, healthy adults - mentally as well as physically.
All teenagers have times when they struggle with self-doubt- it's comes with the territory. Just as adults, they have strong feelings one or another toward their friends, relationships, work (in school and on the job), their appearance, their ability to get things done, their age, as well as where they are and where they plan to go. These feelings, expectations, and future objectives, can and often do, lead to stress.
Everyone deals with stress differently - teenagers are no different and expecting them to act the way you feel they should act and feeling the way you feel they feel, isn't good.
It is our job as parents to get our children ready for the world. We've all seen the outcome of parents who have not done their jobs. So, ask yourself- are you helping or hindering your children's ability to function in society without you?
Where to begin
Facing and dealing with low self-esteem right away is important. If you hear your child speaking negatively about their self-worth and/or doubting themselves - confront this issue immediately before larger problems occur.
Factors that affect your teenager's self-esteem
* athletic ability
* physical appearance
* achievement in school
* relationship with parents
* relationships with peers
Low self-esteem can lead to:
* depression
* suicide
* eating disorders
* delinquency
* adjustment problems
Ways parents can help increase their child's self-esteem
* Praise your teens' efforts and achievements. They want to please. Even when they appear to be indifferent, they still need love and encouragement. Tell them you love them and find nice things to say about who they are and what they do. Tell them you appreciate them. Do not shame, embarrass, or intimidate them or compare them unfavorably with siblings or peers. This will only cause resentment and low-self esteem.
* Encourage your children to pursue interests and activities at which they excel. Being good at something will promote self-confidence therefore giving them the feeling of worth, respect, and importance.
* Give your teenagers responsibilities - baby-sitting, cooking, taking care of a family pet(s), working in the yard, etc. Again, just as adults, responsibility generates a sense of being an important and useful part of the family. If you have an older teenager, show them how to take care of their finances and car. Teach them that being able to go to work on time, organizing their finances, managing their time, and being able to take care of themselves leads to a better life; a happier life. If we, as parents, don't teach our children these things - then we are hindering.
* Encourage independent thinking. This statement goes with the one above. Facts are facts - we won't be here forever. By laying the groundwork for and emphasizing the value of being self-sufficient, you are helping your child get along in life sufficiently without you.
* Showing your teenager (children in general) respect is a great place to start. Most parents feel that just because you are the parent and they are the child, they should automatically respect you. This isn't true. Respect is earned. You give respect; you get respect. This concept runs in the same theme as: just because a woman can give birth to a child doesn't mean they are a "mommy" - it means that they are a mother. It takes a great person to be a "mom" or a "dad" or a "grandma" or "grandpa". It doesn't automatically come with the birth of a child - you have to earn this right.
* Spend time with your teenager. Listen to them. Guide them. Statistics s how that teens who have close, open, and honest relationships with their parents have higher self-esteem and greater self-confidence than do young people who have more distant relationships with their parents. Go have fun!
* Tell your children that it is okay not to be the best at everything. You aren't.
* Teach them that there will be times when they will feel disappointed in themselves - this is ok and perfectly natural.
No matter how much we try to avoid it, stress is always with us. Stress is often linked with change. There are several things you can do to reduce the impact of stress. Learn what makes you stressed so you can either avoid the situation or prepare your body to deal with the stress better.
Warning signs for teenagers feeling stress
* dizziness
* back pain
* tired neck and shoulders
* racing heart
* sleep difficulties
* headaches
* restlessness
* stomach aches
* bossiness
* attitude
* compulsive eating
* inability to get things done
Stress busters for teenagers
* Watch what you eat and drink: caffeine, salt, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates can add to stress - reduce them.
* Exercise: staying active can help reduce headaches and back pain, and will help you sleep a little better.
* Relax: just as important as exercise, finding time to relax and have fun is just as important. Remember, laughter is the best medicine.
* Set realistic expectations: pressure comes from all forms- school, work, parents, friends, extracurricular activities, and self-set. Focus on what is important, not just what is considered important by others. Setting obtainable goals will help reduce stress.
* Talk: If you feel stress coming on, talk with someone - a parent, friend, relative, school counselor - find support and get it off your chest.
This article highlights self-esteem in teenagers, however, this it is great for parents , no matter what the ages of their children, as good self-esteem begins at birth.
Information in this article is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

Source: CapitalHealth, "Self-Image Is the Key" by Joce Duco,, SAMHSA FASD Center for Excellence,

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