Support Self Esteem

This has been written for parents, but can also be adapted for use by Faith leaders and youth workers.


Understand the issues young people face

Listen to the music they listen to, watch the programs they do, read the books or magazines they are reading. Get a face book account and try to persuade them to be your friend, don’t check up on them, but you will learn so much about what is important to them. If you are driving them anywhere with their friends, don’t say a word even when you want to. Just listen to what they have to say, in time, some of them will forget you are there and you will learn so much.

Listen to and talk to your children

Good lines of communication are so important, but take time to develop. Be prepared to be grunted at, be prepared to talk late at night, try to eat together around a table, ask them how their day went and make sure you listen, even if it is boring, ask after their friends and give them time. Even if they don’t seem to want to spend time with you, if you try to make yourself available at some point they will decide to talk, but you need to be there for them. Let them know you enjoy their company and talking to them.

Do things together

This may mean standing in the rain watching football, taking them to dance classes, arranging to share the cooking for a family or going to the pictures to see something that really doesn’t interest you or you can’t understand. Even watching TV together, will help young people to feel valued, it will also give you something to talk about.  If they are of an age where you can’t tell them they can’t watch something, but you are not sure if it is suitable, sitting with them is especially important

Make sure you make your opinions known in a caring way

Your children need to be clear about where you stand on issues, but make sure that you give good reasons for what you say. Be prepared for your children to disagree and be prepared to admit you are wrong, but only if you are.

Challenge social norms

When watching TV or a film with your child challenge stereotypes, that are both unhelpful and also can be really dangerous to the health of our young people. The best looking girls are skinny, most young people under the age of sixteen are sexually active. Often these messages are a hidden subtext of programs or films, question them and teach your children to question them too. Point out the health implication for low weight,  early sex and many other dangerous messages put out by the media.

Lead by example

If you don’t give in to your insecurities, decide to be happy with the way you look, don’t give into stereotypes and enjoy life, even when it isn’t quite like the movies, chances are your children will too. If you want your children to take their faith seriously then they must never see hypocrisy at home. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, none of us are, but don’t tell them not to lie and then tell lies, tell them not to swear and then swear. Your children see more than you want them to sometimes, if they catch you out, apologise, you would expect them too. Lead by example.

Have respect

Show respect to your spouse, partner, parents and children and expect respect from them, in a loving way. They then will understand that they should be shown respect and will expect it from others. This will give them a confidence, as they grow up, to walk away from people who treat them badly, they will know they deserve better than that.  They will also know that they should show respect.

Give compliments

Often parents are good at telling their children what is wrong with them. Unfortunately sometimes religious parents are not only strict but quite harsh when their children don’t do what is expected. Loving boundaries are really necessary.