Do I fit in? Am I normal? Am I a part of the group? All of these questions are part of the preteen mantra. It's so easy to feel left out—not athletic enough, not cool enough—and the preteen brain just can't separate a minor setback from a disaster. How can you help your child have high self-esteem so that the stumbles of the preteen years don't seem so tragic? It all has to do with heading into the preteen years with high self-esteem and being comfortable in your skin.
Here are a few things you can do to help your preteen learn to be self-confident:
Start at an early age. Building self-esteem begins at an early age. One of the keys is giving your child a sense of self-confidence. Don't do everything for your child. Your child needs to learn failure; not to be frustrated by it, but to learn to do things in a different way because of it.
Focus on your child's strengths. And help them do the same. Don't force your son to play baseball if he really wants to take an art class. Don't force your daughter to play the trombone if singing lessons are her passion and she's good at it. If your child is successful at a certain activity, has a special skill and enjoys it, play it up and support its pursuit.
Avoid focusing on how your child looks. Focusing on looks is a sure way to knock down self-confidence of a preteen whose body is changing, zit by zit! Of course, if your child is too thin because you suspect an eating disorder, it is time to take action. Or if your child is obese, you need to address diet and exercise as a family. But it's OK to let 'em try out a look as long as it is nothing permanent (a tattoo), offensive (a phrase on a T-shirt) or inappropriately provocative (low-cut and too-short clothing).
Don't pick your child's friends. Of course, if your child is in a crowd that might get her in trouble or put her in danger, you need to work with her to figure out how to extricate her from that crowd. But if your child is not in the popular crowd and your child has good friends she's comfortable with, don't tamper with perfection. They are her friends, not yours!
Be supportive. The bottom line is that as a parent you need to be supportive of your child, beginning in the early years but even more so in the preteen and teen years. It is your child's life, not the life you imagined for your child. Your job is to keep them safe, give them good advice and stand by them. If you do these things they will acquire confidence and higher self-esteem, and will be on the road to developing into healthy adults.report abuse