Easy Steps to RAISE Your Self-Esteem

(Guest article for Fusion Academy) 

R – Resilience
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A – Attitude/Adaptability

I – Independence

S – Self-respect

E – Empowerment

After counseling and interviewing hundreds of young girls, I have an understanding for what they face in the world and how they feel inside. Trying to maneuver the landscape of your everyday life as a teenage girl is tough. Without tools, strategies, or resources it’s nearly impossible. I see RAISE as your toolkit. RAISE is an acronym for five components to building healthy self-esteem: resilience, attitude, independence, self-respect, and empowerment.

Resilience 

It’s probably no surprise that teens rate the disapproval of their friends and classmates as the most difficult to experience. Most will avoid it at any cost. This is where peer pressure can come into play if they don’t have a strong sense of self or healthy self-esteem. Resilience, or self-perseverance, is a great defense against peer pressure and bullying. We are all resilient in our own way, it’s just a matter of taking those “resilient” behaviors and translating them to other situations and environments. Resilience doesn’t have to come naturally. Instead, we can learn skills to help us persevere and practice them along the way.

Attitude 

Maintaining a positive attitude can enhance self-esteem. Simply accepting that we all have good days and bad days is a start. In addition, adapting to different situations is key. Developmentally, the teen years are extremely complex. Dynamics among friendships start to shift and extreme self-awareness takes hold. Not to mention there’s a good chance their hormones are going crazy! All of these conditions create a concoction just waiting for disaster. Teens may deal with these changes in many different ways. They may become moody, crying over big and small issues, they may begin to challenge parents, or they may feel sad or depressed for seemingly no reason. These can all be very scary experiences and cause extreme confusion.

Adolescents need to remember that they aren’t alone; sometimes just knowing that can make all the difference in the world. Teen girls talk about a lot of things with their friends, but based on my research, feeling sad or lonely for no real reason isn’t usually one of them. So, who or what can they turn to?

Dr Carol will be hosting a Community Education Night at Fusion San Mateo on May 27. See more at: Fusion Academy

How Can I Establish Phone Rules For a 14 Year Old?

This is a question that many parents can relate to. The phone, in some ways, has replaced the television of the 1970s. We’d dread when a parent would say the words, “That’s enough TV… shut it off and go outside!”

Today’s parents can think about their own teenage television habits and ask themselves: “What are the rules of TV watching in our house?” Use that as your reference point for how much you want your teenager to be on his or her phone.

Ideally, parents should establish the expectations regarding phone usage from the beginning. I cannot stress this enough. Otherwise, it ends up like a runaway train.

Questions to answer before handing over a phone: When can your adolescent use the device? All the time? Or perhaps you want to limit it to after homework is finished, a period before bedtime, or just weekends? Where is the phone stored? Who pays for the phone? Again, answer as many of these questions as you can in advance and make your expectations clear.

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Great Self-Esteem Exercise for Teens: The Mirror Exercise.

Girl-Looking-MirrorGuest Blog by Christina Verzijl 

Some days looking in the mirror can be more upsetting than anything else. On those days, thoughts tend to flood my mind that are centered on the parts I don’t like about myself like, “I hate my thighs” or “I wish my stomach was flatter.” In today’s society, the mirror represents a way for girls and women to pick apart their flaws and find all the parts of themselves that need “fixing.”

But, have no fear because I have discovered a new way to use and love the mirror! In a sense, we are taking back the mirror and using it to show our strengths rather than concentrating on the aspects society tells us are flaws. In the Body Project Program, we call this exercise the Mirror Exercise. The Mirror Exercise consists of standing in front of the mirror, with as little clothing as possible and writing a list of 10-15 positive characteristics or qualities you are satisfied with. These characteristics include both emotional and physical qualities. And most importantly, we can like certain body parts for how they look, but also for what they can do for us. For instance, I love my muscular legs for how they look, but I also like them for how they help me run and do yoga.

I do this exercise once a week, and it has allowed me to completely transform the way I use the mirror. Before discovering the Mirror Exercise, I used the mirror to concentrate on all the parts of myself that I wanted to change. Now, I feel empowered when I make a point to stand in front of the mirror and compliment myself. It’s an amazing thing to transform the use of an object from causing self-hate to producing self-love. Because, in the end, my body allows me to do so many amazing things and those amazing things are what I need to be concentrating on and appreciating every time I look at my reflection.

Christina Verzijl has implemented Body Project 4 High Schools in Texas. She hopes that this positive body image program will help girls to learn to love themselves and their bodies one group at a time!