Insecurity is the feeling that you’re simply not good enough. This type of low self-confidence can be a crippling and painful experience for a teenager- and an awful one for a parent to witness, especially if you feel helpless in the situation. Insecurities can drive teens to make wrong choices in life, cause a lack of participation in class, and even a retreat into isolation, resulting in depression and anxiety.
The way teens deal with insecurity is different for everyone.
Your daughter may even turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to ‘treat’ or overcome her insecurities. She may look to sexual relationships as a way to try to boost her self worth.
What can you do?
As a parent, saying the right thing when you recognize insecurity in your teen can be difficult. Here are some things to avoid.
Denial of Negative Statements
When your daughter says things like, “I’m fat,” “I’m too dumb to understand this math,” or “My teeth are too big,” your first instinct may be to deny these statement completely. As well-meaning as you may be, this only leads to your daughter feeling invalidated and misunderstood.
Instead of denying these statements, accept that they represent what your daughter is feeling- without agreeing that they are true. Start an open dialog to determine exactly what has occurred to make your daughter feel this way.
“You Need to Get Involved”
If your daughter is insecure in social situations in school, pressuring her to become more involved or forcing her to join in with her classmates may lead to high anxiety. Instead, help her overcome social insecurities by offering other options. See if she wants to join a local youth group or spend a few weeks during the summer at camp. For some, a completely new change of scenery, such as a boarding school for teen girls, may be helpful. This can provide her with a new, wider group of people to interact with, which may be exactly what she needs to feel better about herself.
“Your Sister Wasn’t Like This, Why are You?”
It’s important for your daughter (and you) to remember that everyone has insecurities at one point or another. While your other children may not have lacked self-confidence in the same areas everyone has something they are dealing with. Even the most outwardly confident people find themselves feeling awkward and out of place in certain situations. Talk to your daughter, and let her know that she’s not alone in how she feels.
“You’ll get Over It”
The teenage years are full of transition. Your daughter is growing up and maturing. She is facing new pressures and exploring her journey into adulthood. Sometimes she may simply feel unsure of herself.
Telling your daughter that this is just a phase, that she’ll eventually get over it, may seem like a good idea, but it can actually be incredibly wrong. According to Psychology Today, teenage insecurities can actually last into adulthood. The struggle is often accompanied by difficulty sleeping, aggression, and mental health problems like depression and anxiety as well, all of which can affect your daughter’s life and future if not addressed. Just waiting it out isn’t the solution. Helping your daughter build up her self-confidence and become more secure in herself and her decisions is fundamental to fighting and overcoming these insecurities.
Are you dealing with an insecure teen? Be careful how you address her insecurities.
The words you use and the way you express yourself to her can have lasting impact.
If you feel like your daughter might benefit from a therapeutic environment where she can flourish and grow among others who are going in the same direction as her, give Greenbrier Academy a call. We’d love to take this journey into adulthood with her.