The parenting journey during the teen and young adult years can be laden with concerns, uncertainties, and hopes. While the challenges may vary, a common thread ties every parent’s worry together – the profound desire for our children to value themselves.
In other words, I believe the number one thing parents are worried about during the teen and young adult years isn’t the fear of unhealthy choices, substance use, friendship struggles, breakups, or job-related anxiety. No, those are very real and important. But, the most profound concern that often keeps parents up at night is whether their kids truly value themselves as they navigate these formative years.
Our kids’ challenges are inevitable, and as parents, we understand that. We grapple with the profound hope that amidst these challenges, our children emerge with a strong sense of self-worth.
And even more than worrying about whether or not our kids understand their inherent value is how we contribute and write about who they believe they are and what their value is.
As parents, our influence on our children’s self-perception is immeasurable. From the first day, we begin shaping their understanding of themselves and their worth. The question then becomes profoundly reflective: how have our words, actions, and attitudes contributed to the narrative our children carry about their worth?
From their earliest moments, children absorb the world around them like sponges. Our interactions, expressions, and responses create the foundational fabric of their self-esteem. As they grow, these impressions evolve into their internal dialogue, shaping how they perceive their abilities, worth, and place in the world.
The realization that our children’s self-value is deeply intertwined with our parenting approach calls for intentional action. Here are some practical strategies to cultivate a strong sense of self-worth in our teenagers and young adults:
Create a space where your child feels heard and understood.
Encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts without judgment.
Validate their experiences and perspectives.
Acknowledge and celebrate their achievements, big or small.
Offer constructive feedback that focuses on effort and growth. Emphasize their unique qualities and strengths with a focus of your celebration on the efforts they’ve put in.
Lead by Example
Demonstrate self-compassion and self-care in your own life. Showcase a healthy balance between selflessness and self-prioritization. Highlight your journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
Support their autonomy and decision-making. Allow them to learn from mistakes and celebrate their successes. Foster a sense of responsibility and accountability.
In the intricate dance of parenting, the journey towards cultivating self-value in our teenagers and young adults is both a responsibility and an opportunity. Our concerns are valid, and they are also a call to action. By consciously fostering open communication, positive reinforcement, leading by example, and encouraging independence, we will contribute to a foundation of self-worth that will serve our children well throughout their lives.
As parents, let’s embrace this journey with love, understanding, and a commitment to nurturing not just our kid’s physical growth but also their self-value development. In doing so, we lay the groundwork for resilient, confident, and self-assured individuals who can face life’s challenges with a deep understanding of their intrinsic worth.