It can be difficult to know how to respond when teenagers are lacking in confidence and are being teased and made fun of at school. Storming into school yourself and confronting the culprits isn't particularly helpful because, aside from being embarrassing for your teenager, it can actually increase the teasing. Instead, focus on positive ways to build your teen's self-esteem and take time to talk through her emotions and any problems she may be facing.
Support and Empathy
Talk about the teasing and how this makes your teen feel. According to the U.S. Department of Education, parents should adopt an interested tone and communicate with kindness and affection. Talking about emotions can help you to respond to your teenager's lack of confidence. If, for example, she claims people make fun of her because she always gets the questions wrong during math class, you could encourage empathy by saying many people struggle with math, and then take time to help her with her math homework. You could also get a tutor or speak to her class teacher for extra support.
Encourage your teen in her hobbies. The American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org says that when parents support their teen's interests they will boost self confidence and help teens develop their identity. Sports or music is a popular choice for many teens, and even if you don't like the heavy metal band your teenager has formed, showing you support him and encouraging him to practice will help with his general confidence. If your teen has any success in his hobby, such as winning at a local skateboarding competition, you can let the school administration, who may want to celebrate it, know, which could make his school colleagues feel proud of him and reduce their teasing.
Volunteer with your teen in your local community. There are usually many opportunities in which to get involved, such as serving together at a soup kitchen. The child development experts at the Kids Health website say that volunteering is an effective way to increase your teen's self-esteem and make her feel good about herself as she is helping others who are less fortunate. As she will come into contact and work alongside people of different backgrounds, volunteering will help her learn tolerance toward others, such as those making fun of her at school.
If you are concerned your teenager is being bullied, or if your teen is continually made fun of, make an appointment to see the school principal to discuss what action will be taken. If your teenager doesn't have many friends at school, try to encourage her to join clubs, such as a church youth group, where she can meet new people and make friends outside school.
Low self-confidence can lead to destructive behavior, such as drug taking and alcohol abuse. If you are concerned or you feel your teenager is suffering from depression, see his doctor for further advice.