This has been a rough year for everyone, but especially for teenagers. Many have missed out on experiences that define the teenage years – things like prom, homecoming and even just defining who you are in a group of friends. COVID-19 has caused more problems for teen mental health than we can express.
A teenager's social-emotional development is also hinged on their brain development, hormones and neurotransmitters. Erik Erikson’s theory of development says that it is during this time that an adolescent will begin to develop and question their own sense of self. In this day of social media, it is becoming more difficult to find who you are and where you belong. Teens are inundated with images that speak to their worth and comparison of others.
A pioneer in social media and the psychology of its impact on esteem and mental health is Jonathan Bertrand. Bertrand’s position is that social media use has a profound impact on the development of self and often interferes with mental health and esteem-related issues. Combine that with Erikson’s work and you have a bit of a potentially disastrous combination.
Here are my top three tips to help teens boost their self-esteem:
- Avoid excessive exposure to social media. When possible, eliminate or really reduce the use of social media. This is particularly true if social media is recognized as part of the esteem issue. If your teen struggles with body image, lifestyle comparison or feelings of inadequacy social media may be a piece of that puzzle. Setting some limits, like turning off all technology a couple of hours before bed and limited overall time on social media, is a good place to start. However, this might be difficult as you get resistance. You might then consider having some conversations about social media and its impact and invite your teen into the conversation rather than it being a lecture.
- Use thought stopping. Another strategy is to use thought-stopping. We cannot control a thought when it comes into your head, but we can control what we do with the thought. Don’t hang on to a negative thought. Instead, say "stop" and think of something else. Over time this will help to create new neural connections in your brain instead of circling the negativity drain. Helping teens understand they can have control over how they handle thoughts is a powerful way to build self-esteem.
- Build mastery. Find an activity that you enjoy and work toward building mastery. This will not only encourage you to find a group of people with similar interests, but it will also build your sense of worth within yourself and within the group. Start by sampling some things that you have a smidgeon of interest in and explore them. If it is a sport, commit to the season. If it is a new hobby or club, give it at least three months of your time. Building mastery is a great way to solidify your confidence.
The content on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on 30Seconds.com do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.
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