Bullies have always been considered cowards, there’s nothing new about that. Mobile phones and the internet however, have created a new faceless monster that preys on our children in the safety of their own home. We have all been shocked at the devastating consequences of cyber bullying in recent weeks following the tragic deaths of Ciara Pugsley in Leitrim and Erin Gallagher in Donegal which should send out a shrieking alarm bell to every parent and anyone who cares for children and young people to monitor mobile and internet activities.

This can prove difficult at an age when children stops talking and start grunting at parents and only want to communicate with peers through electronic devices. There is no escape from this type of communication in the modern world but parents and carers can help their children develop a healthy self-esteem to deal with cyber bullying and other difficulties.

For long enough, low self-esteem has been linked to poorer academic achievement, absenteeism, health problems, drug and alcohol abuse and criminal behavior. In more recent times cyber bullying has also been related to low self-esteem. Building self-esteem in children and young people is a work in progress in an image driven post modern society that pressurises perfection everywhere you turn but fostering a healthy self-esteem in our children is a vital component to  protecting kids from the pitfalls of drugs, alcohol unhealthy relationships and anti social behaviour. Children will not only be more confident, but they also will be able to identify their strengths – and their weaknesses – and still feel good about themselves instead of relying on peer approval to feel validated and caring what Jo Blogs thought of their new haircut!

To help your teenager develop and repair a healthy self-esteem,

  • Encourage and praise often. Kids who see themselves as adequate, competent and loved will not feel threatened by the differences or successes of others.
  • Spend more time on your kids. When you do you are communicating that they are important and that they matter, which goes a long way in developing self-esteem.
  • Encourage your child to engage in interests and healthy social environments where they will make friends with similar interests and be supportive of their endeavours.
  • Allow your children make their mistakes and experience disappointment. It’s healthy for kids to experience setbacks and disappointments without feeling a sense of failure. Instead, teach them how to learn from situations and move on.
  • Acknowledge your child’s good behaviors and accomplishments. Pointing out the positives helps your child see the world in a more positive light.
  • Teach your kids the difference between assertive and aggressive behaviour. Explain that aggressive kids try to force other people to think like them or play their way. Meanwhile, assertive kids are respectful of other people’s differences and ideas but aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves.
  • Explain to your kids that knowing how to say “no” is healthy. Your children should feel they have the right to say no to a request that makes them uncomfortable, even if that person is an adult.

If you are concerned about your teens don’t hesitate to seek professional advice.

Although there are many issues teens face during adolescence, a shattered self-esteem from bullying doesn’t have to be one of them.