Seeking approval from others is something we have all sought. The reasons we seek approval from others vary among every individual. As a Teen, the approval of others plays a major role in many aspects of their life.
In an age where everyone’s life is broadcasted on Instagram, Tiktok and so many other social media sites, it is inevitable to compare their lives to others. The comparisons are also made amongst peer groups. Middle schoolers are some of the most ruthless people! Jokes aside, the Middle School phase is a strange one. You’re not a little kid but you’re not a young adolescent. It’s common to not take the concerns of some Teens seriously. Unfortunately, this leads Teens to feel defensive every time someone judges their looks, their likes, and their relationships. Teens CRAVE approval from people around them to feel validated and heard.
Teens who struggle with seeking approval from others run the risk of making unhealthy decisions. Some will get teased for physically developing sooner than others, some are not as developed, too fat, too skinny, and many other awful examples. This could include their food consumption or lack thereof, and perhaps their use of substances for the first time. The access to drugs has gotten much easier with time. As a parent, this can seem daunting. Many parents may question “What did I do wrong? Didn’t I give them all the love I could?” Try not to do this. I know it is easier said than done, but it is important that you remain helpful and supportive when your Teen is struggling.
Support your Teen by fostering conversations in which your Teen can feel safe to talk, show them unconditional love when they talk about things you don’t agree with, and implement active listening and validate their reality as a Teen. They want to know that you love them even though they dont love themselves or don’t believe in themselves. Compliment them on the things they do well and encourage them when they make mistakes to try again. It is important to praise your Teens for the little things. Praise them when they do things without being asked to let them know that you approved of their behavior. Manage expectations of success for your Teen by trying to understand why they don’t like cleaning their room, or understand why they aren’t getting straight “A’s” in school. Setting unrealistic expectations for Teens can cause so much pain and confidence issues. Make your expectations attainable and praise their accomplishments as much as possible. This can help your Teen feel like approval from you is not unattainable.
Teach them that seeking guidance or wisdom from others is not the same as approval. Guidance is more fruitful in the lives of Teens rather than approval. It can help your Teen see and understand different perspectives and give them the choice on whether or not it will impact theirs.
Lastly, teach them the difference between secure feelings of self and confidence. Having secure feelings of self stems from the level of encouragement and love our parents gave us. It’s the reassuring “It’ll be ok” and “You can do this” we heard as children. Allowing Teens to make mistakes and highlighting their strengths will help them gain a strong sense of self. They can feel safe and secure in their internal problem solving skills because they are able to self-regulate when they find themselves in a difficult situation with friends, teachers or siblings. As they are developing their strong sense of self, their confidence will grow stronger. Confidence is the ability to value oneself and feeling worthy. Confidence again stems from parents providing their Teens a helping hand, being consistent with the values and consequences they implement for the family. Teens with a good sense of confidence can take accountability for their mistakes and know that they can change their behaviors without needing to be grilled about it by their parents.
The therapists at Outside the Norm Counseling understand the struggle of being a Teen who struggles with confidence. Through counseling, your child will find their voice. It is time to fully embrace who you are in all areas of your life, including in the workplace. Our therapists specialize in counseling for women, teenagers and anyone struggling to improve their self esteem. We help them improve their self esteem, cope with anxiety, improve important relationships, overcome depression & find a balance between home and school.
We’re here to help. Contact Outside the Norm Counseling to set up your counseling intake appointment today!