For many, adolescence is filled with insecurity, self-doubt, and questionable body image issues. For English Language Learners (ELLs) insecurity and self-doubt can be stronger, as they are trying to acculturate to a new culture and Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help your teen build his/her self-esteem. Read on to learn 5 strategies that will help to build self-esteem in adolescents.
1) Praise Effort
A good rule of thumb when building self-esteem in adolescents is praising effort, rather than the outcome. For instance, if your teen got a good grade on an exam or term paper, praise him or her for all of the hard work and studying that went into the achievement. Instead of saying, “Congrats on getting an A on your exam,” say, “All that studying you’ve been doing is really paying off.” Show your teen that what is important is that he or she tries hard, even if they don’t always get a good grade.
2) Help Develop Positive Self-Talk
Everyone has inner monologues. Teens, especially, have a hard time dealing with them – especially if they are negative. Inner monologues play a major role in how your teen feels about himself or herself. If they are always thinking, “I’m so dumb,” “I don’t fit in,” or “No one likes me because I can’t speak English right,” he or she is bound to feel bad. You can teach your teen to develop healthy self-talk. Help them point out the facts that aren’t true, so that they can see how detrimental those thoughts are. Teach them to reframe how they think and talk to themselves.
3) Embrace Assertiveness
Teens that know how to speak up for themselves in an appropriate, assertive manner are usually possess a healthy self-esteem. Assertive teens can ask for help, if he or she doesn’t understand something. Additionally, teens can speak up for themselves, if he or she feels like they are being treated poorly, or ask for help, if he or she needs it. Parents can encourage assertiveness by telling them that they are worthy of being heart, so long that they are speaking up in a respectful and truthful manner.
4) Encourage New Opportunities
New opportunities help teens discover and challenge themselves. By trying out new activities, confidence grows. As many teens are afraid of failure or embarrassing themselves, it is up to parents to teach them to not be afraid. When teens master new skills they feel more confident and better about themselves.
Teens who do well in school tend to have higher self-esteems. ELLs should be encouraged to read bilingual books, so that they can understand what they are reading and get a better understanding of the second language they are learning. Companies such as Lectura Books offers bilingual books for teens of all ages. Additionally, teens will feel self-confident, as they can relate to the topics and characters they are reading about because the story topics and characters share some of the same characteristics and life experiences that they do.