Teenagers are transitioning from childhood to adulthood and growing more independent by the day.  This is a time when they start spending more time with friends and less time with mom and dad. Teens have a need to be social as they explore their own identity and discover who they are.  This means that your child’s peer group begins to have more influence over your child than you. Friends and peer groups can balance between being positive for your teen or being detrimental.  And a lot of it hinges on the way your child feels about himself.   Self-esteem or self-image is how your teen sees himself. If he thinks of himself positively, then he probably has healthy self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is vital for your child to transition successfully to an adult; however if your teen has lower self-esteem, he is more likely to be susceptible to peer pressure.   There are many ways that you can help guide your children through the obstacles of peer pressure and self-esteem. Let’s explore strategies to help your teen navigate these common social struggles.

  1. Maintain a close relationship with your child, and encourage open and honest communication. Children who have good relationships with their parents are more likely to seek a parent’s advice about decisions or problems.
  2. Nurture your teen’s own abilities and self-esteem so that he or she is not as susceptible to the influences of others.
  3. Teach your child how to be assertive, and praise assertive behavior.
  4. Give your teen breathing room. Don’t expect him or her to do exactly as you say all of the time.
  5. Praise your child and give him or her words of encouragement on a daily basis.   
  6. Focus on the good choices that your teen makes.  Adolescence is a time of trial and error. I discourage you from putting too much emphasis on the mistakes.  Instead look for solutions to move forward.

Parenting a teenager takes a lot of patience and courage.  Courage to allow for mistakes to happen and patience to guide your teen to adulthood.  If you are interested in learning more strategies to build your child’s self-esteem, please see the links below.

Jessica Colarco, LCSW,  is a mental health therapist who works with women struggling to juggle all the balls of life.  If you’d like to meet with Jessica, please click here.

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