Last month was National Teen Self-Esteem Month and it got me thinking about the ways that we can nurture and support both our own and others’ sense of self worth and confidence. Teenagers have a lot to contend with these days, what with peer pressure, study and exam stress and the growing problem of bullying in schools. Social media can heighten the pressure to look and behave a certain way, to have the perfect body, own the latest gadget or wear the best trainers. There’s a tendency to look at others’ lives portrayed on sites like Instagram or Facebook and think that we don’t quite match up or that we aren’t good enough in some way. Teenagers are also dealing with practical, social and physical changes and of course hormones!

Self-esteem is easily damaged, especially during childhood and teenage years. Of course I believe that it can be repaired and enhanced, so that as adults we can thrive, fulfill our full potential and be happy. I still think though, that preventative measures are always better than a cure. It is possible to really instill a strong sense of self in young people and this will stand them in good stead to deal the challenges of their future lives.

Here are some points to bear in mind to help empower our young people to believe in themselves and to love and accept themselves just as they are. These points spell out the word TRUSTE and the principals can be applied to help ourselves as well as others;

T- Is for TRUST. This means to put our trust in others and let them know  that we trust them to do the right things. Also, to ensure others can trust us we need to lead by example, do what we say we’re going to do and act in the way that we want others to behave.

R- Is for RESPECT. Giving others the space they need when they want to be solitary or when they want to give time to something that’s important to them. Also respect means listening to others’ points of view and their ideas, letting them develop their opinions and their unique individuality.

U- Is for UNCONDITIONAL. Love and respect for others shouldn’t be based on them being faultless. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Even if you’re disappointed by the actions of a child or teenager, they should still feel that they are loved and accepted.  The best words that should be taught to kids are “I am enough”!

S- Is for SUPPORT. Listening to others and taking an interest in them is one of the biggest ways you can show emotional support.

T- Is for TEACH. Young people need to be guided and shown the way sometimes. Guidance in the best way to deal with emotional issues or how to respond to other’s actions that affect us (bullying for example), is so essential. Life skills should be taught in schools along with all the other subjects, in my opinion. 

E- Is for ENCOURAGE. We all need encouragement to thrive and to develop the confidence we need to be happy and fulfilled in life. I think young people should be encouraged to be themselves and to go for what they want in life.

I hope you have enjoyed reading and find the TRUSTE principals helpful for yourself and others.