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How to Help Teens Find Themselves

By Sandy Schroeder

If you feel your teen is struggling with self-worth, perfectionism, or other self doubts, you may be looking for answers. When they question their looks, competence or popularity, they need new positive feedback and more opportunities to feel good about themselves. offers some suggestions and ways to help.

Encourage physical activities - Psychologists say physical activity can improve self-esteem and self-concept in teens. Involvement in school activities works better than exercising at home. Exercise can help teens improve their body image and feel stronger, healthier, and more empowered. Team sports, running, yoga, and swimming can all work. Keep looking for the area that fits them perfectly.

Talk about self-compassion - Teens and their peers are quick to judge each other, which can lead to self doubts. Introducing your teen to self-compassion, which means treating oneself with openness, kindness and acceptance, may help. As teens begin to use self-compassion they may be all right with things that seemed like problems before. A psychologist, local program, or workbook at the bookstore may provide more help about the process.

Avoid comparisons as much as possible - Our schools and social media sometimes make comparisons painful for teens. Whenever possible, expose your teen to groups that do not emphasize comparisons. Also support school policies that do not make grades public, provide ways to revise and redo assignments, and avoid ability grouping. Creating too much pressure to excel can make teens feel bad about themselves, and can create a warped sense of values, where winning is everything.

Encourage a teen’s strengths - Watch for the things that teens enjoy and excel in. Encourage those skills to give them a chance to shine. One teen may be a poet. Another may be a natural at science. Whatever works for them can help them feel more competent and able to deal with the world around them.

Help teens reach out to others - Research shows teens who participated in programs that helped strangers in need developed stronger self-esteem. They came away feeling better about themselves as they provided a valuable service.

Over the years, my kids and I helped out at senior facilities, hospitals, libraries and animal shelters. There was a lot to be done and I think they enjoyed helping, but there were more benefits. I believe they got a more realistic picture of the world, and developed more gratitude as they helped people who really needed the help.

If your teen needs a boost, look for areas in your community that could use the help, and encourage them to help.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Fayetteville, N.C.

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