Helping Teens Embrace Balanced Self-Improvement
September is Self-Improvement Month, and it’s a great time to make changes in our lives that help us become our best! We tend to be our own worst critics, focusing on our weaknesses more than our strengths. Experts recommend that instead of being overwhelmed by every area of your life that you want to improve or by all of our weaknesses, just pick one specific area to focus on, which is more likely to result in success. Improving just one part of your life can help you to embrace a new perspective about yourself, instill confidence, improve your self-esteem, and prepare you for improving another area later.
As the school year begins, it’s a great time to talk to your teen about goals for the upcoming year and self-development. Tell them that September is Self-Improvement Month and see if your teen has any interest in identifying an area to improve. They might be more interested if you are also planning to improve something about yourself so that you can work together to support each other on this journey.
If you and/or your teen is interested in self-improvement, below are some ideas for areas on which to focus:
Silencing Your Inner Critic
We are all guilty of beating ourselves up for things we have done in the past and/or comparing ourselves to other people we think are better than us. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is work to forgive ourselves, and let things go. Each day, think about the good things you have accomplished and praise yourself. Try not to worry about anything you can’t control. For more on this topic, please read our previous blog, How Your Teen Can Silence Their Inner Critic.
Gratitude is one of the best remedies for improving your attitude toward yourself and those around you. Gratitude is a state of mind that increases our happiness and makes us more pleasant to be around. Surround your teen with gratitude – grateful people, things to be grateful for, and models of gratitude – and soon your child will get the picture. Many people find it helpful to make a list each day of three or more things for which they are grateful. For more on this topic, please read our previous blog, Teaching Teens Gratitude.
Improve Physical Fitness
Studies have proven that exercise reduces anxiety and stress, improves self-esteem, boosts academic performance, helps manage weight and controls blood pressure, and builds muscles. Exercise also improves our energy levels and our moods. For creative ways to improve a teen’s physical fitness, please read our previous blog, Don’t Be a Couch Potato!
Develop Good Nutrition and a Healthy Diet
It’s important to establish good habits at home for healthy eating. Explain to your teen what makes up a well-balanced, nutritious, and healthy diet. Talk about how the foods your teen chooses to eat can affect his or her health, appearance and energy level. Making a few small changes in your diet can improve your health and the way you view yourself. For more on this topic, please read our previous blog, Establishing Healthy Eating Habits for Teens.
Improve Social Relationships
Encourage your teen to reflect on their relationships and how they could be improved. Ask your teen to identify the qualities they admire most in a family member and/or friend and consider whether they hold those same qualities. For more information on improving social relationships, please read our previous blog, Building Teen’s Social Skills.
Manage Time Better
Learning time management skills provides youth a valuable skill that will serve them well throughout their lives. Our current culture tends to encourage teens to overcommit. However, studies show that effective time managers are more successful students, have less stress in their lives, and ironically accomplish more. For more information on better time management, please read our previous blog, Teaching Time Management to Teens.
Develop a New Skill
Sometimes joining a new activity can offer us new skills, a new perspective, or just make us feel better about ourselves. Consider these ideas:
- Take a class: Learn something new! You could try an art form, such as painting or photography. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, take a lesson in a new sport, such as skiing, tennis, or kayaking.
- Learn a new language: Tapes, books and local classes in many languages are available.
- Take up a hobby: Knitting, wood working, collecting, or gardening are just a few examples.
- Join a new group: Find a group that shares an interest you love, such as book clubs.
- Volunteer your time: Helping others is a great way to improve yourself! There are so many ways you can give back to your community. For ideas, read our previous blog on Teen Volunteerism.
Regardless of what your self-improvement objectives are, experts recommend that you approach your new changes with:
- Patience, by allowing plenty of time for the chance to become a part of your life,
- Persistence, by not giving up, and
- Perseverance, by anticipating and overcoming obstacles and setbacks that will inevitable develop on your self-improvement path.
Healthy self-esteem – a balance of feeling capable and feeling loved – is an important quality for teens to have. Children with a healthy self-esteem are more likely to be well-adjusted as adults, to handle stress in life, and to maintain positive relationships. Self-improvement is one way to develop a healthy self-esteem, but there are other ways to develop it as well, such as: helping children to discover their strengths, encouraging their involvement in extracurricular activities that they enjoy, and showing them that they are loved for who they are rather than what they can achieve.