It breaks my heart when I hear about another teenager struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and cutting themselves. Sadly, this is becoming too common, we have all heard of or know a teenager that is currently struggling with this. I recently came across an article in Psych Central with some staggering statistics on teen suicide and depression. The article pointed out that according to suicide.org, a teen takes his or her own life every 100 minutes. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people age 15 to 24 and about 20% of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. These statistics are troubling and heartbreaking.
I realize there are many factors that contribute to this state…like mental illness, trauma, etc..and parents should do all they can to get their children the right professional help. In cases where mental illness or trauma is not a contributing factor, I believe low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence contribute to depression and anxiety. As a parent of 4 children this has been a concern of mine and I realize I have to be thoughtful and intentional about how best to deal with this. As a Christian, I turn to my faith for answers and guidance that will lead me from feeling helpless to hopeful. Over the many years of parenting, I’ve discovered 4 key steps parents should consider in helping their kids improve self-esteem and gain self-confidence.
Teens should follow these 4 Key Steps on How to Build Self Confidence:
1. Get very clear on knowing the answer to the question of Who Am I
2. Contemplate and focus on the question of How Should I live My Life
3. Make it a habit and strive to Keep The Promises That You Make to Yourself
4. Remember who you are and Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
It All Starts With The Question…Who Am I?
This is such a fundamental question to help build self-esteem and yet many parents and teens have not taken the time to deeply think about the answer to this question. The world and the media can be a very powerful force in the lives of our children and if we are not careful it will define who our kids should be. If you are a Christian, it’s important that your teen understand that they should NOT look to the world and the media to define their identity, but to Christ. This is why it’s so critical that as parents, we MUST be the primary educators and work 10x harder to defend and protect the identity of our children, if we don’t….society will do it for us.
Christian teens should know that they were made by God to love and be loved for eternal happiness. They were made to be in a loving relationship with God and others…everything flows from this basic concept. Parents should remind their kids that they are made in the image and likeness of God and that they are called to live holy lives that reflect God’s love for humanity. Our children should know that they are God’s highest form of creation with tremendous value, and that deep inside they have been blessed with gifts and talents to make a significant impact in the world.
Our teens must believe in their hearts that they have dignity and that their lives matter, because only they can accomplish the mission that has been uniquely given to them by God. If they have clarity around this question they will live life with vibrancy, passion, and purpose!
Align Your Life With Your Identity
It’s not easy being a teen these days…the world has changed significantly since I was a teen. With all the peer pressure through the social media landscape, our kids need the right mindset and tools to equip themselves in order to live out their true identity. As parents, we must learn how to train and help our children obtain the right mindset and tools so that they may be free and have the self-confidence they need to live a thriving life filled with joy, peace, and hope.
Once your teen has clarity on the first question…Who Am I? The next step is to help them focus on the question…How Should I live My Life? Understanding the first question is like having a GPS or map ….your teen is now ready for the mission…the journey in life.
When our teens know who they are, they will have the ability to make decisions in life that are in alignment with their identity. This sense of clarity will remind them that their attitude, behavior, and character (A,B,C s) should be congruent with their true identity. This simple tool is very empowering for our teens…with the pressures and temptations of the world, this will give them the self-confidence and courage to swim upstream and take the less traveled road.
When our teens know who they are and take action that mirrors their true identity and dignity….they will feel it in the depths of their souls….and it will boost their self-esteem and self-confidence!! Why? Because they are thinking and living in congruence with their Creator….God.
Keeping Your Promises Builds Self-Confidence
Unfortunately we live in times when a lack of integrity and broken promises are often common practice, and therefore our teens do not have many good role models to follow, however, as parents, we should not lose hope and encourage our teens to make a commitment to Keep The Promises They Make To Themselves. It’s important to remind them that if they keep promising themselves that they will begin or stop doing something, and then fail to follow through on that promise, it will crush their self-confidence.
By not keeping the promises they make to themselves (small and big) it reinforces a false belief that they are not capable of doing what they say they are going to do and that their words do not have any value…and therefore they don’t have any value as a human being. This can feed itself and lead to a downward spiral that can be devastating to their self-esteem and self-confidence.
As parents, we can help our teens reverse engineer that downward spiral by reminding them of who they are and the power of keeping their promises. They can start with a small promise they make to themselves…believing that they have the potential to do it…then taking action to follow through with it and see the positive results they get. Once they observe the results, it will feed their belief in themselves and increase certainty/confidence that they have potential…..then that will build momentum and feed on itself. It will propel their self-confidence to a higher level!
Comparing Yourself to Others Leads to Emptiness
A message that my wife and I try to consistently instill in our 4 kids is to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. In the social media world that we live in today, too many of our young teens are tempted to browse through the multiple social media outlets and start looking at other people’s lives. They compare their looks, bodies, cloths, achievements, how many friends they have, activities, places they visit, etc..the fruit of that leads to a feeling of disappointment and emptiness. If your teen gets into the habit of doing this daily it will drain their self-esteem and they will begin to develop a false image of themselves that they are a failure and not enough. Parents MUST encourage their teens to STOP doing this.
This is why it’s so critical that they get the 1st Key Step (Who Am I) correct. Once they know it, and believe it with all their heart, soul, and mind….no one or anything can take it away from them. We tell our kids that the only yardstick they should be comparing themselves to is God’s and that they should be the Best-Version of themselves and strive to be in alignment with God’s plan and purpose for their lives. A great reminder for them is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope.”
Parents – A Call to Action! Get In The Fight for Our Teens!
It’s time that we as parents get engaged in this fight and start taking massive action to do everything we can to stop this terrible trend…we are losing our young people to depression and suicide at a rapid pace and it doesn’t have to be this way. As Christians, we are people of faith and hope…let us fall on our knees and ask God to help us be strong leaders of our families and equip our children with the 4 Key Steps on How To Build Self Confidence in Teens.
Let us remind them daily (through our words and actions) how much we love them and that they matter because they were created for greatness to fulfill God’s awesome plans for their lives!!