6 Ways to Help a Teen Deal with Insecurities

It's normal for teens to feel insecure sometimes.
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Never before has a teen been so bombarded with reasons to be insecure. TV ads, magazine covers, and websites constantly bombard adolescents with unhealthy messages about the importance of being attractive.

It’s not just fashion and beauty that teens tend to be insecure about -- they can also feel unsure about their grades, friendships and more. This type of insecurity in adolescence is dangerous; research shows that the more insecure teens are, the more likely they’re going to be insecure in adulthood.

It’s not just girls who are insecure. Boys are often just as insecure as their female counterparts, but are much less likely to show it outwardly.

Even the most confident of people have areas of their life that they’re not completely satisfied with. Your goal as a parent, however, is to help your teen realize that it’s normal to feel apprehensive about some aspects of their life and that, eventually, she has to move on and outgrow that insecurity.

Of course, this can be very difficult, given that teenagers aren’t always entirely open about their feelings. So, do what you can to spot where your teenager might be struggling and always aim to keep an open line of communication. The more your teen feels like you understand and won’t judge her, the more likely she will be to open up. Some other tactics you might try to help your teen deal with insecurities include:

1. Be a Good Role Model

Do you display insecurity to your teen?

Do you often make harsh comments about your weight, your body, your athletic ability, your friendships, your job? Your teen can easily pick up that negativity from you and see it as a normal way to view life.

Role model healthy self-talk. Talk about things you like about your appearance. Be brave and wear a bathing suit even when you don’t want to.

Of course, you’re not always going to feel positive; however, aim to share optimism outwardly.

2. Validate Your Teen’s Feelings

When your teen expresses insecurity, don’t minimize her feelings. Telling her she’s silly for thinking that dress makes her look fat or reassuring her she’s a genius when she’s worried about a test, dismisses her feelings. Validate how she feels - even if you don’t think her feelings are logical. Say something like, “It’s understandable that you might worry about that. I used to think things like that too.”

In some cases, it might seem like your teen’s insecurities are laughable. As an adult, you have the hindsight to realize what matters later in life and what doesn’t. Your teen doesn’t yet have that knowledge. Therefore, you should treat your teen’s insecurities as real as any other feelings any member of your family might have.

3. Eliminate Judgmental Words from Your Vocabulary

When your teen hears negative words all around him, those words will quickly become regular in his vocabulary.

Words such as “dumb,” “stupid,” “fat,” and “loser” become the norm -- and that leads to more insecurity. If you want your teen to think positively about his life, then you need to use positive words around him.

4. Set Goals with Your Teen

So much of insecurity comes from being unsure about your path. If your teen shares with you that they feel insecure about their weight, academics or otherwise, sit down with them and talk about how to get to where they want to be. Achieving a goal can truly instill self-confidence in teens.

5. Cultivate Your Teen’s Talents

Help your teen explore a variety of activities. Not only will that make her well-rounded, but it can also help her discover new talents. Whether she excels in music or she’s really good at math, make sure she recognizes her skills.

Uncovering her strengths won’t erase all of her insecurities, but it can help her improve her overall self-worth. Teens who feel good about themselves are better equipped to deal a few insecurities here and there.

6. Focus on Your Teen’s Behavior

Show your teen that what matters most in life is the choices she makes. Treating other people with kindness and showing compassion to others is more important than how she looks or whether she excels in science.

Get your teen involved in volunteer work. Helping other people can remind your teen that there’s more to life than clothes and test grades. Acts of kindness can help her feel good about herself while also improving the lives of others.

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