In my last post I discussed the need for teenagers to have healthy role models as a way of creating their values and expectations which they use to define their lives. Having a sense of good role models helps them build healthy self-esteem.
Role models may change depending on a teen’s age
Once again, we need to recognize that much of a teenager’s perception tends toward the extreme. In fact, adolescents can go through a stage where they become almost obsessed with a particular role model and may view this role model through rose-colored glasses, dress and act like whoever or whatever is the idol at the time.
Some teenagers can select philosophical or operational models, such as democracy or a scientific phenomena, where they obsess about applying those principles to every situation they encounter. Notice if they become overly connected with emulating and being loyal to a model, as they may thwart their right to self-expression and creativity. This type of extreme preoccupation can become destructive to healthy self-esteem.
As with all of our self-esteem components, balance is needed.
11 ways to help develop healthy role models
In order to increase the self-esteem through a sense of role models for teens and children, parents and caregivers can:
- help them talk about and understand their own beliefs
- provide opportunities for them to discuss their beliefs
- be good role models
- help them set reasonable and achievable goals
- help them understand the consequences of their behavior
- help them state their expectations and standards clearly
- communicate rules and limits clearly
- work to broaden their range of experiences
- explain what you are doing and expect them to do so as well so that they know when, why and how things are happening
- keep order in the family and basic predictable routines in other settings
- schedule family activities and educational programs to meet their needs
Power to nurture self-esteem
It is important to recognize that parents and caregivers of teenagers have the power to nurture self-esteem in their teenagers. They need to model behavior consistently while offering positive self-esteem messages and teaching our teenagers to be responsible for their own self-esteem.
What a gift it is to our teens and ourselves to help our teenagers understand that they are both lovable and capable.
When parents focus on the 4 components of CUPS (connection, uniqueness, power and sense of role models) they are more likely to build self-esteem in their teenagers. I encourage parents to review these components on a regular basis and make them a significant part of your mentoring and modeling as you journey through life with your teenagers. It will be a life-long legacy of healthy growth and development that will become a core belief as they embark on adulthood.
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
*Some information taken from Understanding Teens, Diane Wagenhals, 2007.