girl-160015_640Preteens are special in every way. During this stage, they need lots of encouragement, motivation, support, and guidance. They are at a stage when they try to fit in, are all about sports, fashion and/or the latest technical gadget; may think they have all the answers and feel they should be treated more like an adult.

The average preteen also craves for more independence. If their self esteem and confidence is healthy, they will make good decisions, choose their friends wisely, and will respect their body, avoiding such activities such as alcohol and drug abuse.

This is why it is extremely important to do all you can to make certain your preteen has healthy self esteem. The decisions they make at this stage may impact their life forever.

What Is Self Esteem?

A psychology term used to reflect personal feelings of yourself – the degree to which one values oneself. When a person does not feel, speak or think positively of themselves, he or she is said to have low self-esteem. Per, the definitions are:

  1. A realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.
  2. An inordinately or exaggeratedly favorable impression of oneself.

Warning Signs:

A preteen with low self esteem will often focus on what’s wrong with them instead of what’s right. You will also notice the child making negative comments about themselves such as: I’m ugly, I’m stupid, I’m fat, I can’t do anything right, no one likes me and so on. You’ll also notice the preteen will avoid trying new things, isolate themselves – avoiding new friends, less likely to have boundaries, will allow other kids to bully them, will follow other kids’ actions even when they know the actions aren’t good, just to fit in, will not speak up when they should in fear of being the blame, judged, laughed at or ignored, and more.

What You Can Do:

  1. Be supportive. Go to every game, play, etc. that you can.
  2. Respect their space and privacy.
  3. Celebrate their uniqueness and encourage their individuality.
  4. Remind them that you love them and will be there for them no matter what.
  5. Pay attention to their behaviors and the company they keep. Act immediately if they are in danger or need help.
  6. Encourage independence.
  7. Teach them to stand up for themselves and speak up when something isn’t right.
  8. Be involved in their school life.
  9. Set boundaries and stick to them.
  10. Be aware of their friends.
  11. Tell them how beautiful and/or handsome they are every chance you get.
  12. Be patient.
  13. If you make a promise, don’t break it. Teach them to do the same.
  14. Avoid over-reacting when things go wrong with your preteen. You don’t want them afraid to tell you what’s going on with them in fear of your reaction.
  15. Continue to build trust and show (more than you tell) that you trust them.

Remember parents, raising a preteen is never easy. When you feel things are out of control or if you need advice on how to handle a situation, reach out to someone you trust or an expert. Don’t beat yourself up when you think you could have handled a situation better. No one is perfect. Communicate with your children and keep in mind, you were a preteen once.

©2011 KST Family, Inc. All rights reserved

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