Our 13 year-old daughter was harshly teased by a few kids last year at school. Now, she is really hard on herself. She worries that no one likes her and puts herself down, and seems self-conscious. How can we help her with her self-esteem?
Our kids feel very supported when they see that we take their troubles seriously and show them that we are there for them. She’s building her identity and the opinions of her peers really matter to her. This is a good time to teach her how to look beyond the peers that have teased her and to gain self-esteem from other areas in her life.
Here are some tools to help her take this as a growing experience and encourage her that this is an issue she can overcome. Teach her that her own opinion, and the opinions of the people who love her, matter most. She may have felt rejection by a handful of peers and now believes that their opinion is true. She might fear that because they thought badly of her, so does every one else. Encourage her to treat herself with the respect she deserves and most others will accept her.
She can combat self-doubt and harsh criticism by thinking of what she is, rather than what she is not. In therapy, we call this “gathering evidence.” Teach her to notice her strengths, such as her sense of humor, kindness, creativity, and how she adds to your family. Help her learn that values, beliefs, and character are more important than physical appearance, clothing, or economic status.
Encourage her to be involved in meaningful activities. Service, volunteering, hobbies, talents, and working on challenging projects will help her build lasting self esteem you can try these out. She will get to know herself and learn to reach out to others through these types of activities.
You are helping her grow from her trial and teaching her that she can turn to you for support through her teenage years.
Amy Cluff, LCSW has a private therapy practice in St. George, Utah.