Of all the things that you can instill in an adolescent, self-esteem is a huge one. The previous strategy of "a trophy for everyone" was not always successful, as it created a generation of helpless kids with a need for external validation. Instead, a re-focus on hard work and acceptance of failure has been recommended. Here is a look at some of the fun ways to help foster self esteem in your teen:
This is a simple thing that can be fun for you and the family, and get you out of your comfort zone. Spend half a day driving somewhere in a random direction. Let your kids randomly tell you left, right, go here. When you get there, let them choose a random place to stay and be in charge of food and activities for the night. The next day, they are in charge of navigation-- getting you home without the use of GPS. Let mistakes happen and find something fun to do when they do, as you regroup and talk about where you went wrong.
Give up the Captain's Hat
If you do family activities like boating or camping, give your kids the reins for the day. Put them in charge of setting a course or choosing a hike, and go with it in an appreciative way. This can be done at home, too. Make theme night meals, and put them into the rotation for choosing a theme and cooking. This not only teaches them independence and self reliance, it gives you a chance to model gratitude for the hard work of others, something that may feel like a miracle in your teen. This can work for choosing a family activity, like being responsible for planning a game or movie night. You get time with your teen doing something that they have put thought and planning into for the whole family's enjoyment.
Do a Family Project
One great way to teach your teen that we all have things we learn or do better than others is to tackle a family project together that is difficult in different ways for different people. This can be building an addition on your home or an outbuilding, learning a foreign language to prepare for a vacation, or creating crafts to sell as a family at the farmer's market in order to buy something all together. By making your teen an equal partner in the project, and involving them in all of the different decisions like budget, timeline, and responsibilities, you will help to foster responsibility. Be certain to hold them to their end, and don't shelter them from the consequences if they don't hold up their end. This is an important part of learning, and can lead to a better understanding of accountability.