Intergenerational Self Esteem

📸 by  Louis Quintero  via Pexels

📸 by Louis Quintero via Pexels

Often when we think of self-esteem, we think it happens on an personal level and that nothing interferes with it. Believe it or not, self-esteem is a concept that must be taught and is taught unintentionally and intentionally. The unintentional teaching of self-esteem usually teaches us how to have the lowest self-esteem possible. As a teen, this is happening on a variety of levels in every environment they enter.

Let’s begin with the home environment and how self-esteem is formed. Every family has a family culture. A way of doing things, communicating, engaging and etc. Self esteem is also a layer in the family cultural composition. The level of emotional awareness is an indicator of knowing how the view of “self” is handled in families.

The most common thought parents have about their teens self-esteem is that it is only affected from outside sources. Many parents do not believe they are doing anything that could be impacting their teens thoughts of self. From experience, it seems that parents feel teenagers are old enough to not need their positive encouragement or compliments. Parents think this for a variety of reasons that include, never being given compliments as a teen, thinking “tough love” will be better and thinking they won’t listen to them anyway. All of these reasons can be faulty. Parents tend to think their job is to only raise their children and this doesn’t usually include building self-esteem. It mainly means, “I raise you to look good when others view you.”Unfortunately, this may not mean their teen actually feels good.

Teenagers are very interested in their peers thoughts as well as their parents. A parent is the first teacher a teenager has. This is true whether a parent is present or absent. This happens whether a parent is positive or negative. In most families, people are teaching information that they know and rarely consider that a different approach could be useful. Here are 3 quick ways to build your teens self-esteem.

3 ways to boost your teens self-esteem

  1. Do not critique everything they do. We all go through phases and your teen will too. Assess for the safety of the phase and allow them to be expressive. This could look like trying new hairstyles, clothing options and music taste. Remember just because you do not like it, doesn’t mean it is bad.

  2. Think about what your own self-esteem and where it is on the high or low scale. Many times if your self-esteem is low, you will emit low-frequency thoughts.
    ( Good Vibes Only)

  3. Talk to your teen about their thoughts about themselves. I remember being told who I was and the type of person I would be because I developed breasts at an early age. I remember thinking how unfair that was. Take moments to just ask questions about how they view themselves and ask how you can support them on their journey.

If you are noticing you teen is struggling with self-esteem or your thoughts of self are impacting them, it is always a good idea to connect with outside support. This can be in the form of a mentoring group, therapy, coaching and more. A combination of these supports can also be magical. Just remember none will be quick fixes.

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Jaynay C. Johnson, LMFT

is an award-winning teen therapist, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. She owns Teen Talk, a premier therapy and educational company and the co-founder of The Black Brain Campaign. She was named in Huffington Post as one of the 10 black female therapists to know. She is a sought-after speaker on teen emotional issues. Featured as a media personality that has written or been featured by Black Enterprise, Thriveworks, Essence, Philadelphia Tribune, and more. She holds a BS degree from Delaware State University and a MA degree from LaSalle University. In 2017, Johnson was awarded the inaugural Phenomenal Women Award for her dedicated work with teenagers. Johnson served as the second woman to give a keynote speech at a high school since opening in 2009. Johnson is the author of Dear Teen Self: Tips to help teenage girls navigate adolescence and My Dear Teen Self: Guided Journal to help teens explore feelings/social scenarios.