It’s National Teen Self Awareness Month, and never before have our young people needed more support to start believing in themselves, with 95% of teenagers believing themselves inferior in some way.
Young people face several battles that eat away at their self belief and self esteem - puberty, new social experiences, and the stresses of school to name just a few; 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough in at least one of these areas, according to the Dove Self Esteem Fund.
These factors are reason enough to cause issues in confidence and the ability to self regulate, let alone without the impact of the pandemic. Loneliness, anxiety, depression, and issues with self esteem have spiralled due to the isolation and social media-heavy lifestyle that COVID has fuelled. Social media in its nature encourages comparison and a popularity based culture based on likes, which is conducive to a knock in self confidence.
The Young Men’s Mental Health Site states that
“Self-esteem relates to how much you like yourself, and how you recognize or appreciate your individual character, qualities, skills, and accomplishments.”
In essence, we need to configure a way to boost young people’s confidence in what they achieve, and what they can achieve, as well as their own character development. This provides a strong basis for self confidence and self assurance in a time that is full of ups and downs.
Self esteem is best built through positive relationships, learning new skills, and starting and completing new challenges. So how can we best support our young people in this?
Whether at school, home, in youth groups or friendships, fostering a safe and supportive environment is crucial to build young people in their own confidence and self esteem. To know they feel heard, understood and supported is a crucial backbone for them to feel empowered and more likely to have higher self esteem.
To encourage this, we need to make sure that we are making time to listen to pupils one-on-one, about their concerns, wellbeing, their achievements and goals. These four elements are equally important. Wellbeing and concerns of young people are huge things to tackle, but ensuring the positives, such as goals and their recent achievements, really ensures that they hear and acknowledgement of their abilities and skills.
Young people are also more likely to approach difficult topics that need attention when one-on-one with an adult or peer they trust. Ensuring this individualised pastoral outreach is a great step toward helping young people with their troubles, worries, and self esteem.
Additionally, it avoids the stigma around approaching mental health and wellbeing that circulate in Secondary schools. Although mental health is increasingly talked about and discussed with young people and on social media, cyberbullying and bullying in schools with students that are vulnerable at the focus of this still occurs; 60 percent of parents with children aged 14 to 18 reported them being bullied, which doesn’t acknowledge cases of bullying that aren’t openly discussed with parents. Essentially, a one-to-one conversation increases the likelihood of any issues being solved quicker and more positively.
The social interaction of everyone’s lives has been disrupted massively within the last year, and this has affected our young people massively. Not only have their friendships and social interactions suffered, but their schooling and academic futures have also taken a massive knock. Therefore, any way that we can encourage young people to retain or build new friendships is so important.
This doesn’t just apply to friendships, however. Helping young people get involved with organisations that offer mentorships, with either an adult or fellow young person, or build connections with others in their own community is paramount. If meeting up with new people causes your young person anxiety, initiating schemes such as writing to isolated people and building up a pen-pal friendship is a great way to form connections. Some of our young leader schools have done this in their local community, with massive success; it’s a system that benefits everyone involved, and gets them involved in social action that builds their character.
According to the Prince’s Trust, 28% of young people believe they are going to fail in life. Many young people find themselves struggling to get a job when they first come out of school, as employers believe they don’t have the skills for employment. In turn, this has a massive knock on effect on their self esteem.
Our KS4/Post 16 Award equips pupils with the skills that employers are looking for, and it’s an excellent attribute to have on a CV when coming out of school. The Award develops SMSC and Character Education and promotes pupils’ personal development. The activities that the Award includes directly relate to building leadership skills, confidence, presentation ability and much more.
Our KS3 Young Leaders Award focuses on teaching students to become confident and resilient leaders, who develop a growth mindset, become independent thinkers and good communicators, and who have compassion and care for their communities. Through focusing on leadership, courage, character and initiative, these qualities will help our young people to deal with life's challenges, but also enhance their own self confidence in a number of scenarios.
We recently spoke to a KS3 Young Leader who told us that she grew confidence and resilience through the YLA. Watch her story below.
Ultimately, the way to boost teenagers self esteem is through promoting their courage, power or leadership, and confidence. The Young Leaders Award tackles and promotes these qualities head on.
You can find out more about our Young Leaders Award, and how it would work for your students here: www.abyyt.com/yla