Be their biggest fan: Helping Teen Boys Improve Low Self-Esteem
Although the issue of low self-esteem in girls is a frequent topic of discussion these days, their male counterparts are being all but ignored; this probably owing to the strength and prevalence of the numerous male role models available for their adoption and admiration.
How can boys suffer from low self-esteem, when they are constantly being bombarded with images of mighty superheroes and all-powerful athletes, handsome and oh so tough action stars who can fight their way through any crisis?
Well as it turns out, this might be the whole problem. When teen boys compare themselves or try to equal these brawny, super confident, and impossibly strong heroes, they are bound to come up short—at least in their own inspiration.
How Poor Self-Esteem Affects Boys
Self-esteem is how a person feels about themself and because self-esteem is often tied to emotions, changes in self-esteem are not uncommon as children transition into adolescence. A confident child who loves the spotlight may begin to shrink into the background as they enter their teen years. Teenagers begin to face new pressures and scrutiny from peers, teachers, and parents. The expectations are higher and teen boys may find that pressure has a negative effect on their self-esteem. Some signs of poor self-esteem include:
- Your child avoids a task or challenge without even trying. This often signals a fear of failure or a sense of helplessness.
- He quits soon after beginning a game or a task, giving up at the first sign of frustration.
- He becomes controlling, bossy, or inflexible as ways of hiding feelings of inadequacy, frustration, or powerlessness.
- He makes excuses or downplays the importance of events and uses this kind of rationalizing to place blame on others or external forces.
- His grades in school have declined, or he has lost interest in usual activities.
- He withdraws socially, losing or having less contact with friends.
- He experiences changing moods, exhibiting sadness, crying, angry outbursts, frustration, or quietness.
- He makes self-critical comments, such as “I never do anything right,” or “Everyone is smarter than I am.”
- He has difficulty accepting either praise or criticism.
- He becomes overly concerned or sensitive about other people’s opinions of him.
- He seems to be strongly affected by negative peer influence, adopting negative attitudes
Helping Boys Boost Self Esteem
As a parent, you yourself hold the unique superpower needed to provide your teen boy with help for low self-esteem: your love for your very special son.
- Introduce him to the concept of smoke and mirrors. Inform your teen that the superhero characters they admire are totally fictional, possessing powers that—in truth—no human being could possess. In regards to pro athletes, advise them that they benefit from years of professional training. And about their top action movie stars, remind them that the vast majority of them employ stunt doubles to film and reenact their feats of daring; and that in regards to their image, most celebrity photos are professionally staged–employing pro lighting, airbrushing and touch-ups, and advanced hair and body makeup services to achieve flawless results.
- Become your teen boy’s biggest fan. If your son scores a third-place win in a bocci ball competition, treat this honor with the same praise and esteem you would a gold medal in an Olympic sport. Let him know that every achievement is an important and well-earned one; this in itself is a powerful help for low self-esteem.
- If your son does express an interest in bodybuilding or weightlifting, be sure that he approaches this sport in a moderate and healthy manner. The frightening fact is that 38 percent of middle school boys have reported using protein supplements and that nearly 6 percent admitted to steroid experimentation. Encourage them to achieve their fitness goals through sensible diet and exercise, alerting them of the dangers of steroid abuse.
- Let him know that intellectually driven activities such as reading and studying are in themselves empowering, and can lead eventually to high-powered careers. The promise of intellectually driven success is in itself ample help for low self-esteem.
- Talk about different, not better. It’s important to emphasize the child’s unique qualities and boys need to know that we all have different abilities and grow and learn at different rates.
- More varied role models. Showcasing alternatives to the athletic culture with male role models like artists, teachers, chefs, musicians, shows boys there are different, legitimate ways they can follow their talents and still be valued.
- Get them involved with voluntary or community projects that make a difference to someone else to develop a more positive opinion of themselves.
While there are many things you can work on at home to boost your son’s self-esteem, for some teen boys, working on their confidence at home may not be enough. These young men may benefit from a structured and supportive environment such as a residential treatment center.
Residential Treatment for Self-Esteem
At Equinox RTC, the phases of our program mirror the literary Hero’s Journey to empower students as heroes of their own lives. In the olden days, most cultures had traditions that focused on the concept of growth and life transitions. We refer to these today as “Rites of Passage”. These traditions provided powerful learning experiences and punctuated the shift from child to adolescence and adolescence to adulthood. Many rites of passage involved the completion of a challenging task or significant journey that involved overcoming a large obstacle or facing a primary fear. In the process of completing this journey, the youth gained newfound skills and confidence that could be applied to the rest of their life.
At Equinox, we use Adventure and Recreation Therapy to enhance physical, cognitive, social, and emotional well-being so that students may participate fully and independently in chosen life pursuits. As a part of the multidisciplinary team, our Recreation Therapist aligns treatment goals with that of other disciplines and uses various recreational modalities to achieve them.
We believe that through Recreation Therapy, our students can not only find confidence in their identity, they can also gain new perspectives about interests and hobbies that they may pursue in the future. We emphasize living in the moment and focusing on the journey, not just the destination. Recreation Therapy is an experientially based playground for practicing and developing skills and assets needed on that journey.
Through this process, our students become more informed and active participants in their own health care and may achieve and maintain optimal levels of physical activity, productivity, well-being, and quality of life. Students learn how to help reduce symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety while building confidence and socialization in their community.
Our program creates a culture that fosters the development of strong, positive identities among young men and strongly challenges old ways of being and thinking. As they develop and learn alongside one another, they form trusting, caring relationships.
Equinox RTC Can Help
Success in working with young men requires specific and unique areas of neurological, emotional, and physiological emphasis and a keen eye to recognize what works for each individual. At Equinox, we have created a culture and approach designed specifically to meet the needs of teenage boys.
We strive to support the creation of self-sustaining, lifelong change at Equinox through our remarkable people and programming. When change is generated through a relationship-based and principle-centered focus, in which a teenager has the choice to comply, lifelong, sustainable change is achievable. Equinox is a residential treatment center for adolescent boys that emphasizes the mind-body connection and holistic healthcare; with a strong emphasis on family therapy, adventure therapy, adventure therapy, relationships, physical fitness, and nutrition.
For more information, call (828) 414-2968.