Many teens today do have healthy self-esteem. I find teens that engage in one of 3 specific activities to have the highest self-esteem and the most positive self-regard. Theses activities center around doing for others and/or have a higher purpose beyond self.
1) Working— Having a job can be a powerful tool to build one’s self-esteem. It promotes responsibility, dependability, people (depending on the job) look to you for help or information and the reward is the power of knowledge and ultimately a pay check. I remember one teen telling me that she loved her job at a scarf shop because people were always asking her advise on colors and styles and sometimes buying the scarfs that she picked out. It made her feel important and valued, which boosted her self-esteem.
2) Volunteering—Teens that volunteer and move beyond their comfort zone, see how much they really do have. They gain a healthy perspective on their life and reflect on how fortune they are. Some teens with the highest self-esteem engage in volunteer activities with a parent. It becomes “their thing” to do weekly or one saturday a month. It leads to real conversations about the world, life, happiness and the importance of charity. My hat goes off to all the mom’s and dad’s who engage in volunteer activities with their children. It pays off more than you realize. You are raising compassionate, giving, well-adjusted teens, who lead by your example. Remember, long-term consistency is key here.
3) Playing a Sport– Teens that are trained athletes and/or play on sports teams tend to have higher self-esteem. There is something very powerful in pushing oneself further that you expect you can go to realize what you’re made of. The concept of being part of a team and striving toward something together creates a sense of belonging and pride, kind of like a family. You have others counting on you, expecting you to give your all for the good of the team. It becomes much more than physical fitness or ability, it leads to mental and emotional growth as well. Looking beyond yourself for the good of the team strengthens maturity, confidence and self-esteem.