As suggested by psychologist Harsheen Arora, parents and caregivers are the only mentors for children in their adolescent age who can boost their level of self-esteem and confidence by taking a pledge of self-awareness with them.
Hitting puberty or entering the teen years has always been known to be tumultuous. This is a time in the lives of adolescents where they are not children anymore but aren’t even an adult. Teen years are full of questions and struggle to figure out one’s identity. Changes in these years are not only biological but also psychological. Kids struggle with issues of self-esteem, self-worth, the need to be understood and accepted and wanting to matter. Teens are known to experiment and take risks because of peer pressure, parental and school expectations or media influence to posit themselves in a certain way. Now with them having access to the worldwide web at the tap of a finger, they not only have to learn how to behave in the real world but also struggle to maintain an ideal image in the virtual world. The way we teach our children to not speak to strangers in the real world in order to protect them needs to be replicated for their exposure to the virtual world too.
Knowledge sure is power but it is also well-known that with great power comes great responsibility. We need to educate children to assume this responsibility. Today, a child as young as two years accesses YouTube videos on phones and tablets. Yes it can be monitored, but let’s take a look at what really happens. When a child spends more time staring at a screen, his/her brain is being highly stimulated as opposed to when they read a book. From a young age, children are getting used to this kind of stimulation, which wires their brain to always crave this activity. This results in them developing attention deficit syndrome or hyperactivity. They get bored with the real world activities quickly and are constantly searching for the same kind of instant and programmed high. They have just skipped the stage of processing details and discovering where that understanding might lead them.
Hence, they do not really learn to value any form of knowledge or information because now they don’t have to work hard to obtain it. They would rather just Google it. They have access to information that they might not even be equipped to understand. Using a screen to communicate with everyone has made our kids guarded in their real time interactions and they fail to make friends in the real world. The confidence of face-to-face interaction has failed and communicating via a screen is the only booster. Now, along with the magazines, television and the media going online, the internet has become another source of not just information but opinionating. When we put this equation together, we realise that children today are being deprived of learning to work hard or value things. With so much ease introduced into their lives, they are trained to look for the easy way out. Instead of learning responsibility and being in charge, they resort to escaping reality and using self-harm and suicide as ways to combat their emotional distress and draw sustenance from external sources. We need to teach the young to strive to be better than their own self and not someone else.
Low self-esteem, disconnecting with friends, wanting to be alone, withdrawal from family members, reluctance to leave their electronic gadgets unattended, avoiding school, changes in personality (anger, sadness, crying), drastic change in appearance or weight, fresh marks on the skin or wearing clothes that hide these marks even in summers, are a few signs that may help a caregiver, friend, or family to identify a need for help.
In such cases, it becomes important to make the person feel that help is available without judgment. Expressing one’s feelings either in spoken words, a letter or a journal helps in releasing the amped up emotions. Reinforcing that they are brave and have done nothing wrong, to challenge their belief that they deserve the pain by showing them compassion and support, will help them move away from harm. We need to let them know that it is okay to be confused, or scared. To help them understand that they are loved and are worthy.
Parents and caregivers can help boost children’s self-esteem by taking a pledge with them:
That from this moment, I choose to love and accept myself even with my flaws and shortcomings.
When I feel confused, lost or scared I will close my eyes, take a deep breath and remind myself that in this present moment everything is fine.
I pledge that every day I will appreciate myself rather than being critical. Remind myself that I deserve love and understanding first from my own self. I am important and significant.
Courtesy: The Pioneer