It's a powerful weapon in the war against teenage drug and alcohol abuse. And it doesn’t cost parents a penny. It's called the “self-esteem shield.”
It’s simple. Research shows that teens who grow up with high self-esteem are far less likely to abuse drugs or drink compared with kids who grow up without a sense of self-worth.
Here are several steps you can take to help your children develop self-esteem:
Remember that the road to self-esteem begins in infancy. It is nurtured throughout childhood, preadolescence, and adolescence by interaction with you and your spouse, the environment, and a buildup of successes along the way.
Listen carefully to your teen when he or she is trying to tell you something. Make it clear that you're very interested. For example: Turn off the TV or put down the newspaper when the child speaks to you, and don't take phone calls during the conversation. Also, be sure to praise the child's efforts to communicate with you, whenever possible.
To teach self-respect, you must show respect at all times. Speak to your child with respect—even when upset or angry. Never give in to the temptation to shout or demean.
Focus on the positive. Praise the child's behavior when appropriate, but don't exaggerate. For children and especially teens, express confidence in their ability.
Enjoy your teen. Tap into his or her humor, energy, and creative sense of possibility. The odds are high that you’ll get in touch with your own youthful side.