A look at the protective factors that contribute to healthy living
In more ways than one, we are a culture and medical system that is more focused on reactionary care. This is true even in the mental health treatment world. Many times we wait until there is a problem or cause for a diagnosis to begin treatment. However there have been some important developments in the areas of preventative care, and the conversation is shifting towards what it means to be well, as well as what can be done ahead of time, rather than waiting for problems to occur. This is right in line with today’s discussion of another “protective factor” that we can seek to instill in ourselves and our children.
Growing Self-Esteem in Others
Many times we talk about self-esteem as if it is something that can only be increased through a whole lot of self- reflection, journaling, or meditating. We certainly believe that at best, it is an individual pursuit and not something that can be taught secondhand. This, however, is not entirely true, and as a parent or caregiver, there are plenty of ways to help inspire self-esteem in your children and adolescents that don’t begin with a long talk about “being true to yourself” or anything else you might find on a Pinterest quote board. While somewhat helpful, these platitudes don’t offer much in the way of actionable steps and while we hope they’ll operate as an “insight transplant”, very rarely will the procedure take in the ways we hoped.
In its most basic definition, self-esteem is the belief in one’s own value, and at its healthiest, maintaining that belief in spite of our awareness of our own flaws and weaknesses. It is all too easy to forget the plain and simple truth that self-esteem is built upon the accomplishment of small, esteemable acts, and our sense of our ability to rise up and meet the challenges of daily living. Too often, our fixation on our failures, perceived or actual, keep us from focusing on the areas in life where we are actually doing well.
As a parent, we are uniquely positioned to help our young ones (or even not so young) discover these areas of success and to even generate opportunities for them to succeed. Begin by naming their strengths, and be very specific about it, i.e. “I think you showed a lot of leadership in the way that you handled that situation and were the first to apologize”. Pay special attention to the behaviors that you want them to change, and make sure that these are regularly recognized, praising even the smallest steps in the right direction.
Next, restrain yourself from solving their problems, but instead join them in the brainstorming and decision-making process: “what ideas have you thought about to fix the problem?” or even allow yourself to take a backseat, “I’m confident that you’ll be able to make the right decision”. You may even challenge them to take on more responsibility in the household, whether it is helping you cook dinner, clean the house, or help care for a younger sibling. Cast a vote of confidence that they will be able to handle the challenges that you throw their way.
Sometimes, even despite the best parenting advice, we still are unsure of how to help our teens, especially the ones suffering from a mental health condition. At Launch Centers, we are here to help, here to steer you in the right direction and to propel your young adult back into the life that they should be living. Give us a call today to learn more about our unique program.