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UNHEALTHY TREND Examinations are traumatising teenagers in our country
UNHEALTHY TREND Examinations are traumatising teenagers in our country

It’s self-esteem that helps a teenager make the right decisions in life

Sachita has spent the last half hour trying to console her daughter who has come home desolate because she has not done as well in her board exams as she had expected. At 17, her daughter is smart and sociable but there are days when she seems to have no feeling of self-worth. How can Sachita boost her daughter’s self-esteem?

Career-defining examinations are traumatising the youngsters in this country. There is an unhealthy tendency to carelessly classify a smart young person as an underachiever on the basis of marks that nobody would remember a few years down the line.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the way a person thinks about herself and more significantly, what she expects of herself.

The foundation for positive self-esteem is built at an early age and is influenced by the relationships between the teenager and her family, friendships at school and attitudes of teachers.

Praise, support and finding something she is good at can help her develop confidence in herself. Unrelenting criticism, teasing and failures can make her feel worthless.

Confidence, or lack of it, may affect decisions made during adolescence. Peer pressure and outside influences can guide a teenager and shape her decisions.

The strength of her self-esteem will help your teenager make the right decisions about many things in life, ranging from her picking the right friends to making the right career choice.

From a very young age, we tend to form a mental picture of who we are, based on the way others perceive us, and also the way life has treated us.

The term self-image is used to refer to a person’s mental picture of herself. This mental picture contributes to her self-esteem.

Self-esteem, is the sum total of how much we feel valued, loved, accepted, and thought well of by others.

A large part of our self-esteem hinges on our perception of ourselves and how much we consider our own worth.

A strong self-esteem helps a teenager feel good about herself, allowing her to realise her own value and take pride in her abilities, skills, and accomplishments.

Youngsters with low self-esteem may hurt constantly because they feel they are unworthy of attracting healthy attention and praise and incapable of achievement. Without a doubt, parents, more than anyone else, can boost a child’s self-esteem.

Don’t withhold praise: In this competitive world, parents panic if the child’s performance is not at par with those of her peers. Instead of constantly pulling her down, boost her self-esteem by praising what she does well. Be constructive with praise: Descriptive and constructive praise will build stronger self-esteem. For this, parents must get into the habit of looking for situations when their child is truly doing something well.

The way she voluntarily helps the elders in the house can be used as an opportunity to highlight her inherent kindness.

If your teenager has been asked to help in a school project, praise her role in it instead of denigrating her achievement by asking why she was not the head of the project.

‘I’ vs. ‘you’ statements: Criticism can be insidious and may be inbuilt in your statements.

That is why it is better to say, “I would like you to keep your room neat,” rather than saying “Why are you such a hopeless slob? You are incapable of being neat.”

Help in decision-making skills: Teenagers are confused about many decisions which will have an impact on their future. Have the patience to listen, help them articulate their thoughts and then guide them gently to what works best for them.Drawing boundaries: No child likes to be left adrift with no rules and boundaries.

Accepting responsibility for her behaviour helps your teenager develop a strong sense of self-worth. Parental discipline, however, should be fair, firm and friendly.

Parenting is a road with no explicit sign-posts. The only thing we have in abundance is unconditional love. When you focus on your child’s accomplishment rather than on her failures, you teach her that she is the star in your firmament.

GITA ARJUN

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