our everyday life

Activities on Building Positive Self-Images for Teens

by Sara Ipatenco

The teen years are often the most angst-ridden years in the life of a human being. Teens spend an extraordinary amount of time worrying about how they look and what others think about their looks. As teens go through profound physical changes, they start to compare themselves to others, and many wish they looked different. This doesn't have to be the case, however. With self-esteem building exercises, your child can shake off the high expectations teens have of themselves and their peers, and feel confident just the way she is.

Focus on What You Like

Encourage your teen to list what she likes about her body, such as the color of her eyes or the muscle definition of her legs. Encourage her to list internal qualities, too, such as being compassionate, caring and energetic. Ask her to write her list so she has a visual reminder to hang on her mirror. Once your teen makes her list, she'll probably realize she has more qualities that she likes about herself than qualities that she doesn't like. Remind her to think about these qualities when she starts focusing on how embarrassing it is to get a pimple or upsetting it is when her new outfit doesn't look as good as she wants it to.

Be Physically Active

Encourage your teen to find a sports team or other physical activity that he enjoys. Perhaps your teen would enjoy joining a baseball or football team or taking an exercise class at a recreation center near your home. If your teen is worried about his weight, exercising regularly will help him shed excess pounds, but it will also help him feel better about himself, according to the KidsHealth website. Even if your teen doesn't need to lose weight, exercise will boost his self-esteem. Allow your teen to create his own exercise plan, because he'll be more likely to stick to it and enjoy it at the same time.

Hygiene and Groooming

When your teen is feeling down about the way she looks, encourage her to take action. Perhaps she would like to have a new haircut or have her hair colored or highlighted, suggests the Center for Young Women's Health. Take her to a department store, many of which offer free makeovers at the cosmetics counters. Not that makeup is necessary to look attractive, but your teen might feel better about herself if she learns how to apply makeup. A flattering new outfit or new piece of jewelry might also help your teen feel good when she heads to school or extracurricular activities.

Parent Activities

Despite the attitude you probably get from your teen, he probably values your opinion and craves your approval. Aim to compliment your teen regularly. Tell him how proud you are of his good grades or how nice he looks in his new shirt. Don't make the praise fake by exclaiming how fantastic he is, but instead point out a specific item so he knows you're paying attention. Also, make your praise about more than just his looks. It'll build self-confidence about his abilities, as well, which goes a long way toward improving self-image. Encourage your teen to give himself three compliments a day, too, recommends the KidsHealth website.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images