Teens today are under a lot of stress, but there are many ways to build self esteem and confidence. LoveToKnow Teens was privileged to speak with motivational expert Kathleen Hassan, The Teen Confidence Coach, about how to build self esteem to be happy and confident through the teen years.
About Kathleen Hassan
Kathleen struggled with low self esteem for most of her life and ended up making many poor choices in order to fit in with her peers. Gradually, however, she was able to rebuild her life and discovered her voice and power from within. Overcoming her own struggles gave her the passion and purpose to transform the self esteem of teens worldwide. Kathleen's philosophy is that teens today have the power within themselves to create a life they love, no matter what their circumstances.
Interview: Ways to Build Self Esteem
At what age do teens begin to have self-esteem concerns?
Girls and boys as young as 6 or 7 are having issues with self-esteem. Because we live in a global society, kids today are comparing themselves to everyone in the world. Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year to convince kids that they are not good enough without certain products and services - and it's working.
What issues today most affect teens' self-esteem?
Kids today are bombarded with images of the rich and famous. Our society places so much value on these qualities, which creates a false illusion that anything short of that is bad or unwanted. We have lost our way and our kids are caught in the comparison trap without the right tools to dig their way out.
There are so many external pressures on kids today: broken homes, poverty, alcoholic parents, drug abuse, promiscuity, eating disorders, self-injury. It is very easy to become overwhelmed by these challenges and as a result keep our focus on what's wrong. Our greatest challenge is to continually shift our focus back to what is great about our kids today. We need to hold a vision for what's possible and hold up a mirror for them to see their potential. We need to inspire our youth to believe that there is something inside of them superior to any external circumstance.
What external things can teens do to build their self-esteem?
For most teens, starting on the outside is the easiest way to begin to develop the internal stuff. Any time you do something external for yourself such as wearing a nice outfit, getting your nails done, or getting a great new haircut, all of these external actions send a powerful message to your subconscious mind that says "I am worthy and deserving of good things."One of the most powerful things teens can do to tap into their potential is to hang around with positive people. When you associate with people who have a good attitude, it will have a dramatic effect on your own energetic vibration, which will attract more of the same back to you. Hanging around with kids who like you for you takes all the pressure off trying to be something or someone you're not. "I like the way I feel about me when I'm with you" is a good measuring stick for figuring out who you feel most comfortable with.
What are some internal ways to build self-esteem?
Our thoughts create our reality and learning how to harness the power of our own minds is the most important thing anyone can achieve in their lifetime. Becoming aware of our thoughts and consciously choosing thoughts that will bring about a desired outcome is the secret of success.
One way to begin to observe our thoughts is through meditation. By quieting the mind and focusing on breathing, we notice how often our minds wander and we can learn how to train our thoughts to return to the breath. It's not how many times the mind wanders, but how many times we can bring our attention back to the breath that builds inner-peace and self-confidence.
Another way to get hold of your thoughts is to analyze the messages you give to yourself. If you find yourself saying something negative, such as "I'm such a loser," consciously tell yourself to stop. Use positive self-talk and replace negative statements with positive affirmations. We teach people how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves.
The greatest hurdle for teens to overcome is to avoid the comparison trap. Stop comparing your insides to someone else's outsides. If someone has something that you wish you had, instead of being jealous, add it to your wish list and say, "That's for me!" When you shift your energy from jealousy to intention, you become a magnet and attract more great things into your life.
Prom season can be especially hard on teens with low self-esteem. What do you suggest?
Set an intention and decide right now that this is going to be a great prom season and the best time of your life so far. An intention is something that you plan to do or achieve. With focused attention and concentrated energy, anything you can dream you can achieve - as long as you believe.
Sounds easy right? Think again. The problem is that most people spend all of their time thinking and focusing on what they don't want.
What can parents do to help teens with self-esteem and personal confidence?
Well-meaning parents only want what's best for their kids. But unfortunately trying to buy self-esteem always backfires and only creates a sense of entitlement rather than empowerment. The result is dependant self-esteem and when we get our sense of self from stuff, it will never be enough. The next step is independent self-esteem and learning to be OK no matter what you've got going on externally. But the ultimate goal is interdependent self-esteem and that is, understanding who you are, what you do well and how what you do well serves the world.Parents can help their teens develop this sense of self by:
- Helping them to discover what makes them unique and how they can use their own gifts, skills and talents to benefit others.
- Resisting the urge to compare their child to anyone else.
- Creating a fail-safe home by co-creating ground rules and consequences so teens are a part of the process and solution.
- Practicing unconditional love by saying "there is nothing you can do or say that will make me take my love away."
- Helping your child find the lesson in any challenge or perceived failure.
Is community involvement such as an after school job or volunteering very valuable for teens' self-esteem?
Absolutely! Any time we have the opportunity to try something new we are stretching ourselves and building our self-confidence muscles. We build self-esteem by taking risks and learning how to trust ourselves and our abilities. Another benefit to after school jobs or community involvement is the opportunity to interact with others, which raises self-esteem to the level of interdependence by seeing how what we do benefits others.
What regular activities can teens become involved in to help their self-esteem?
The word "regular" is the key. Establishing rituals and the daily repetition and practice of success skills will help build the foundation and habits for a lifetime of achievement.
How can teens' self-esteem affect their lives after high school?
Our choices either lead us towards our goals or away from them. Our choices are based on our beliefs and our beliefs are simply thoughts that we've played over and over again and have accepted as our truth. By becoming aware and mindful of our thoughts and working towards self-mastery in harnessing the power of our minds, we can be, do or have anything we want in life.
The earlier we grasp these principals and apply them in our lives, the less we'll have to unlearn later on. When we get stuck in habitual negative patterns of fear, worry and stress the harder it becomes to regain our sense of power and joy.
By planting the seeds of possibility thinking in teens early on we are helping them create a life that they absolutely love. Rather than just accepting whatever comes along, today's teens have the power to manifest abundance, happiness, and well-being and as a result they will have the power to change and heal the world.
Thank You, Kathleen Hassan!
LoveToKnow Teens thanks Kathleen for sharing her insightful advice on ways to build self esteem. For more information about Kathleen, including additional tips and advice, visit KathleenHassan.com.