Self-esteem is a key to success.

Middle school and high school can be some of the most exciting years of your teen’s life. However, they can also be some of the most challenging. Having a healthy self-esteem can help carry your child through the ups and downs.

This is a vulnerable age, and they are surrounded by new and unfamiliar pressures. On top of social changes, they’re also feeling the hormonal shifts of puberty. All of these things can have a major impact on their self-esteem.

But don’t worry! As a parent, there are things you can do to improve your teen’s confidence and self-esteem as well as help them face this season with optimism. Today we’re sharing 10 tips that will help you build them up and encourage a healthy mindset.

1. Give honest affirmations.

Teens are exceptional at recognizing lip service. They know when you’re just saying things that you think they want to hear. Instead of showering them with vague compliments, take the time to truly recognize their best traits.

As you do, brainstorm affirmations that go beyond your teen’s physical appearance. You will build their self-esteem by verbally recognizing their kind heart, giving spirit, or great work ethic. Remind them that you’re proud of them for a lot of reasons, and none are superficial.

2. Show them you’re proud.

Is your daughter a great artist? No matter her age, she’ll still feel a surge of pride when you hang her most recent piece on the fridge. The same goes for all those times you sit and listen to your son’s latest guitar riff or listen to him explain a new gaming strategy.

Actions speak louder than words, so teens need to know that you appreciate and admire them. Don’t just tell them you’re proud of them—show them in a very real and tangible way.

3. Listen to your teen.

Even when they seem distant, teenagers crave connection. You can help them feel good about themselves and build their self-esteem by carving out special one-on-one time to have meaningful conversations.

Growing frustrated by the silence you hear when you ask “How was your day?” Here’s a list of 100 different questions, curated by a group of high schoolers, that are more likely to get kids talking.

4. Practice setting realistic goals.

Between academics, sports, and extracurriculars, your teen likely feels overwhelmed by responsibilities and expectations. While a healthy dose of self-discipline is important, sometimes it’s easy to push past the mark.

Remind your child that you don’t expect perfection. Instead help them learn how to set responsible, realistic goals for themselves and take gradual steps to meet them. They’re already experiencing pressure from multiple sides, so remind them that you’re always there to cheer them on and proud of them for trying.

5. Teach self-acceptance and self-improvement.

Self-acceptance doesn’t imply that there is no more room for improvement. As you teach your teen that they’re perfect just the way they are, don’t discount their drive to better themselves in certain ways. Gently help them understand their strengths and weaknesses in a given area, then pave a path for them to get stronger while maintaining a healthy self-esteem.

And when your teen steps out and tries something new, cheer them on. Show them that they can love themselves and still pursue personal growth.

6. Find out what they love.

Does your teenager love lacrosse? What about theater, math club, or cheerleading? You don’t have to understand everything about their interests, but supporting their hobbies speaks volumes.

This means showing up to games, helping them practice, and seeking out resources that can help them succeed. When you invest your personal time into their growth, they’ll be that much more confident in their abilities and you’ll give their self-esteem a boost.

7. Help them give back.

Helping others is one of the most effective ways to boost your own self-esteem. This holds true for teenagers too. Often teens can get in their heads about surface-level comparisons to their peers. It’s easy to become consumed by who has the latest fashions, the best haircut, or the coolest car.

By stepping outside of their comfort zone and helping others in need, your child will do more than just give back. They’ll also have a renewed appreciation for the gifts in their own life, even those they might have previously taken for granted.

8. Teach assertiveness.

Show your teenager how to speak up for themselves in an appropriate, assertive manner. Remind them that peer pressure lasts throughout middle school and high school and that they need to learn how to firmly stand their ground.

Not only can this skill help your teen avoid potentially dangerous situations but also gives them the voice to stand up for themselves if they’re being bullied or mistreated.

9. Reframe negative self-talk.

It’s common for teenagers to talk down about themselves simply because they’re repeating their inner monologue. To help break that cycle, resist asking them to stop the habit altogether.

Instead reposition their words and turn them into positive affirmations. For instance, redirect “There’s no way I’m going to pass this test” to “I can make a good grade if I study hard.”

10. Model the confidence you want to see.

At any age children have a tendency to imitate their parents’ behavior. They notice when you talk down to yourself in the mirror and shortchange your own abilities. Leverage this mimicry by modeling the positive self-esteem that you want your teen to have.

To break the cycle, practice approaching every new opportunity with confidence. Let your child overhear you praising your features and flaws. In time they’ll learn to do the same.

Another tip: While it’s easy to get caught up in high school drama, avoid gossiping about your teen’s peers. This sends the message that it’s acceptable to bad-mouth others, and focusing on the negative doesn’t support the mental health you’re trying to encourage.

Building Self-Esteem the Healthy Way

Being the parent of a teenager isn’t always easy. This is a season of incredible growth and life-shaping changes. These 10 tips will help you build your teen up from the inside out so they’re ready to face whatever comes their way.

We’re proud to be your family’s trusted dental home as you navigate your child’s teen years. We’ll help them feel confident about flashing their bright, beautiful smile everywhere they go. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.