The transition from child to teenager has been a difficult period of life from time immemorial as the individual undergoes physical, emotional, social, and other types of changes. It can be even more traumatic in today’s society with its emphasis on appearance and material possessions. Children have to deal not only with peer pressure, but also with their own critical self-judgments as they compare what they see in the mirror to what they see in their classmates.
Refrain from teasing your child. Instead, make your home a safe space where there is nothing but unconditional acceptance and love. They need a place where they can relax. Make your home a “no name calling” zone. Don’t allow family members to call attention to body differences or issues. These should be household rules.
If someone breaches the agreement, then there must be a binding consequence. Encourage praise and support. If one of your children boosts the self esteem of another, then make sure you praise them or provide a reward. Don’t look at this as bribing, but as teaching positive, supportive behavior which will serve them well in the real world.
Don’t flatter or give insincere and undue praise, however, but be realistic and encouraging. Point out their good characteristics, whether physical, social, emotional, or mental, and help them understand and deal with the inevitable changes of puberty. Commend your children for efforts they make to adjust positively, and try to boost their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Talk with them frankly and openly and try to get them to be open with you. Open communication is probably the most important thing you can do to help your children through their turbulent teenage years. Help them understand that all teenagers face changes and struggles, and you might be able to use your own teenage problems as examples.
Don’t force the situation if your child doesn’t want to hear your suggestions. You can give examples that demonstrate how other people have surmounted similar difficulties, but avoid comparisons between your child and others.
You want to help your child realize that an individual’s worth isn’t measured by their physical appearance or possessions, but by their character. Your overall goal is to help guide your children through adolescence and the changes that take place in their minds and bodies, to being self-assured adults that are ready to take their place in the world.