Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a moment and remember a time you were given a task you didn’t understand.
Maybe it was a homework assignment on something your teacher hadn’t covered. Or it was a work project with unclear expectations and deadlines. Whatever the situation, you were at a loss because you were set up to fail.
It wasn’t a question of your talent. You just didn’t have the tools you needed.
Here’s the thing.
If you don’t actively teach your kid self-esteem, you’re setting them up to fail.
We get it.
Research has shown:
A kid gets a hit of dopamine (the happy hormone) with every like on their social media post.
Each positive reaction increases the dopamine hit, creating a reward cycle.
This cycle motivates the kid to continue using social media for that dopamine high.
Let’s be clear. There isn’t anything inherently good or bad in this cycle. It’s just the science of the way the brain works.
Yet, we know as parents the danger that lies here for our kids. Depending on social media to feel good about themselves is a slippery slope toward addiction and other mental health issues. If that happens, our kids begin to measure self-esteem by their social media performance.
Positive responses on social media boost their self-esteem. Negative responses destroy it.
If you feel panicked about that happening to your kid, you’re not alone!
Tempting as it sounds, taking social media away isn’t the solution. Yes, it might remove the immediate threat but if you haven’t given your kid tools to actively build their self-esteem, they’re set up to fail.
They’ve been assigned a task with none of the help they need.
Your kid needs online and offline tools to build self-esteem that doesn’t rely on like counts.
Let’s start with the online tools first!
Cultivate a positive social media experience.
If that sounds vague and confusing, we got you. It starts with two simple steps!
1) Find and follow body-positive or inspirational accounts.
Let’s be honest. It’s popular to demonize social media but the truth isn’t so black and white.
For every account promoting distorted body image and negative self-talk, there’s another tackling those issues head-on. These influencers use their platform for good to encourage their followers with tools and habits to build healthy self-esteem and positive self-talk.
Imagine the impact of helping your kid discover these accounts! With the reach of social media, it’s never been easier to find like-minded people so help your kid connect with these encouraging communities and build positive relationships.
2) Use the “unfollow” button. A lot.
Let’s face it. There are probably accounts you follow on social media that always make you feel yucky. Maybe you experience:
negative thinking patterns about your physical appearance.
sadness that your life isn’t picture perfect.
negative self-talk for not living up to "the standard".
Now if you experience this on social media, you can bet your kid does too.
That means it’s time to discover the power of the “unfollow” button! As a parent, imagine the power of training your kid to recognize when certain accounts always spark lower self-esteem. As you teach them to notice those feelings, empower them to protect their emotional and mental health. It’s as simple as clicking “unfollow” and removing those negative influences from their social media experience.
So, there you are.
The answer isn’t to throw out social media.
Just take two simple steps to jumpstart a positive experience for your kid!
Now, let’s chat about offline tools to use.
Create an offline environment that builds self-esteem!
Sounds easy, right? You’ve probably thought that giving your kid enough affirmation and validation will teach them self-esteem.
Well, the truth is more complicated. Experts say loading your kid with compliments may actually hurt them in the long run. So what do you do?
Nurture your kid’s sense of self-efficacy.
Simply put, help them develop the skills to complete challenges on their own and watch as that competence breeds confidence.
Now, what does that mean in practice?
1) Let your kid problem-solve on their own.
We know this is hard because our natural flinch is to jump in when our kids start to struggle. Yet, this actually hurts them.
Think about it this way. Self-esteem is a feeling that comes from WITHIN. It doesn’t matter how many trophies they collect if they don’t feel capable of overcoming a challenge on their own. The most powerful tool you can offer is to let your kid experience the discomfort of a challenge and only help as much as needed to empower THEM to overcome it.
2) Regularly express your unconditional love.
As parents, we get that it’s tempting to assume our kids know how much we love them but it’s important to consistently stress that it’s a love without conditions.
It can be as simple as repeating these things:
Affirm to them that failure doesn’t determine their value.
Remind them you believe they have something important and unique to contribute to the world.
Tell them the exact things you love about them that don’t have to be earned.
Talk openly about your own flaws so they realize that they don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
These conversations lay the groundwork for your kid to develop self-esteem on their own. Knowing they don’t have to fear failure and feeling secure in your unconditional love for them, they’ll be filled with confidence in their ability to succeed on their own. This feeling of competence and strength translates to a boost in their self-esteem.
So, does getting rid of social media guarantee protection from attacks on your kid’s self-esteem?
Let’s face it. That answer is “no!”
Limiting social media may be part of how you decide to help your kid with their self-esteem and that’s ok! A “one size fits all” solution just doesn't exist. But whatever you decide, you can avoid the pitfall of setting your kid up to fail.
Restrictions don’t solve the problem.
Teaching them online and offline tools prepares them to build and maintain their self-esteem.
Ready to make it a little easier on yourself? The Aqua One is here!
Your Parent Dashboard shows you every action taken on the smartphone so you can see if your kid views content that might harm their self-esteem. PLUS, their Mental Health Check answers give you real-time snapshots of their emotional health so you can take action if it starts to suffer. Ready to get started?