Any moms dealing with children of low self esteem? My 16 year olds have very little. Help!

Maureen - posted on 08/07/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )

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16 year old twins will not wear shorts, go swimming, join any groups or sports, not many friends and believe they are not smart.

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Brenda - posted on 08/08/2010

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First why do they not wear shorts? Because they have fat legs/hairy legs do you know? My daughter did not like to wear shorts (which is bad in Texas). But we finally found out that she did not like to wear shorts because her legs were hairy (and her thighs are fat in her opinion) and it made her feel bad. I taught her that she can shave her legs and that there is not a lot she can do about the shape of her legs (she gets it from me). She still wears long shorts but at least she wears them. Swimming is a whole different bear, honestly I bought her a suit (the kind with the longer shorts) she liked it enough to swim. Are they picked on at school, if so that will not help. I think you should probably talk to them (apart if possible). Try to find out what they feel, where is this coming from. Twins are harder because a lot of the time they feel if they have each other they do not need anyone else. Talk to them and see if this is just a phase.

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Leslie - posted on 08/19/2010

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I don't understand the shorts thing. So a kid doesn't want to wear shorts. Why is that a big deal?

Leslie - posted on 08/19/2010

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What do they do well? Are they creatives? Do they write, paint, draw, sew, sculpt. Instead of dwelling on what they don't do maybe discover what they can or would like to do. Once they start having small successes their image of self will grow as well.

Carina - posted on 08/18/2010

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Hi Maureen :)
I have a 17 yo boy, not a twin tho. He is very similar in his attitude, tho is very popular, but he doen't believe he is. He has the same hang ups you have mentioned, and most ppl who have commented here are right - it is an age thing, and they will grow out of it, eventually. But as parents, we want our children to go thru the best at all times. My son is a good looking kid, he is stable and caring, and has a long term beautoful girlfriend - sounds good right? He will NOT wear shorts. Hasn't worn them since he was in grade 4, and he is in senior currently. He likes long pants, no matter the heat, and it gets hot here too! IF that is what he wants to wear, fine. It really isn't a big issue. He has always been so particular about what he wears, in detail. I realise it is a confidence thing - but if it is not out of control, and not harmful, then we got the best of the outworkings. I complement him regularly, especially when he has put in effort. Nothing over the top with compliments, Keep it simple. In a teenagers mind - parents have to compliment, its part of our job diescription, they appreciate hearing it, but rarely believe it. So if you go over the top, they think your definitely faking it. Just go natural -they way your would with a friend. It's really their peers who they are interested in for feedback. The thing they need to learn, is that the people who love us, as friends, love us no matter if we are gorgeous or ugly. I ask my kids - do u have a friend who has "name the issue - eg skinny legs", is that why youare friends with them, or does it make you not want to be friends with them? Typically the answer is that it has nothing to do with the appearance. Most teens believe that everyone cares more about how they look, than they really do. If i does have to do with their appearance -then that will tell you a lot about where they are at, and that is not a good place. If that is the case, it may be worth investing some time into a bit of research about what supports you can provide. There is a lot of research on self esteem out there, dont be afraid to go and look for it. The best stuff is in the psychology and edcuation fields.
It sounds like they have each other as a support, which is awesome. Support that support all that you can. The trick is slipping in the new supports.The more supports the person has, the more resilient they are, the more able they are to cope with any issues. If available: Start introducing a reliable adult that you know very very well, who gets along well with your kids and will be a good influence. All teenagers need an adult they can aske questions of, someone who is not the parent, has similar values as yourself and supports your methods of raising kids, that they can trust, and look up to. It's almost like mentoring, but no so formal, performing more like friendship. WE KNOW what we have set up, the kids think its just great to have someone else they can turn to. This is a huge support -and works MARVELLOUSLY for me with my kids. Hehehe - what they dont realise has been carefully orchesrtated for then, wont hurt. Tho - if they do know, that is ok too - so long as there is some level of confidentiality also. Certain topics cannot remain confidential, and that is important to state.
Another thing, is that everyone has something they are good at - find it, and get them involved, It is important to feel they ability to succeed at something, It increases the confidence levels. My daughter is a phenomonal climber, but there is nothing nearby, so we travel an hour each way for her to participate in training. BUT, it helps her to realise she is capable of success. My son avoids these extra things, has for a few years now. But is starting to say he wants to restart athletics. I will look into a program and get him started soon.Tho, I may have preempted it by telling him, it was not good that he wasn't getting enough exercise, so I was going to put him in swimming, as it is the most effective full muscle work out. He is a little scared of the bigger option, and is going for the option I want - athletics. If your kids are into reading, acting, experiments, exploring, animals, plants, helping, then find something related. More than one social circle is good too. Options for good friends increase. This is another support that can help.
Helping out in some manner, be it some level of charity can be really good for them too. It shows them they are capable of being kind, and making a difference in their world - this is HUGE. Make it a family activity, or something you are doing, that you require their help in, and then if possible, slowly withdraw once they are settled in - other commitments calling...
These are some things you can do. They still need to participate tho. Sometimes you have to drag them at first, sometimes they come willingly. It should not be damaging tho. If they really really wont join, no matter what trick you have pulled out of your sleave, then maybe let it go. The world won't end over it, adn they should hopefully grow past it eventually. My favourite trick is to give them a choice A- the option i want them to do, or B - the option I am wiling to work with, that they REALLY dont want to do. And if they dont choose then I will, and I will choose B. They usually choose A after a tantrum, lol.
All of these supports, can start to help with their belief in their capablities and this can help with how intelligent they believe they are. Remember the success principle, and use it when you can. If they can succeed, it will increase their confidence. Many kids believe they are not smart. Really, the difference is the effort they have to make, compared to others. Some do not require a lot of effort in some areas, and more in other areas. there always going to be someone better tho. Everyone has things they are brilliant at, their intelligence supports those areas. We need to work to support the rest, to balance it all out. Sometimes, it the support base being built on. If it has not been built right, it makes it difficult to understand what is happening now. Reading reading reading. The more they do, the better they will be. What they expect of themselves tho, that is what they will probably get. Its a self-fulfilling prophesy. What they expect is what they are really aiming for. They need to learn to reaim to what they do want to achieve, make a time plan, include all the items and skills they will need to achieve that, and then go about doing those things. Following the plan is character building, is good for self-regulation and organisation skills and will help them to recognise that achieving something is dependant upon effort. I tell my kids, when they ask how much effort - I say, until you understand it well. It will get easier as it goes to learn the thing, whatever it may be.
As for friends, thats a tricky one. They have each other - that is HUGE. My son doesnt believe he has many friends, but is surrounded by people who care about him. Sometimes they cant see past their own issues. Somtimes they dont have a lot of friends, and it is simply that they are still developing their social capacitities. Everyone develops this at different rates. Its normal. And if they are shy/introverts - well it's normal too. IF not shy, they will get past it eventually and learn the skills they need for social interaction. You can suppor them in this learning tho. At home - why did you say that, what did you mean by that, how could you have said that differently, how do you think others would think about what you have said, why mite they think that, etc etc.
In the end - they are hormonal 16 year olds. I know your pain - I have one just finished 16 and the other nearly there! They will survive, just make sure you are sure they KNOW that they are loved - make sure you know their love language and ask them if they know they are loved and how they know - great feedback for you!
Good luck, may your family be blessed.
Hugs

Rita_2_davey - posted on 08/18/2010

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Your twins are just going through another one of their fazes'. Give them a little space, tell them how much they are appreciated and loved. Ask them whoever gave them the impression that they weren't smart? Everyone is smart in their own way, they dont' have to be Einstein. I'm sure they will come through this. Just try and think of the last phase, probably around 11 or 12. They made it through the last one and I'm sure that this one they will to. Its just that they are a little older and their hormones are running rampant. I'm sure they are wonderful boys' but soon to be young men. Like I said remind them of how proud of them you are and how much you love them and need them. Good luck Mom, everything will be fine, soon!!

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They must be shy. You can't change a child's personality. I had a daughter who was very smart - gifted. She would rather read a book than anything in the world. She is now 31 has a PHD, expecting her 1st child in Oct., & is very happy in life.

Cheryl - posted on 08/15/2010

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I remember that my Dad always told me beauty comes from the inside. I hope that you believe that also. Make sure that you let them know the things that contribute to thier personal beauty, ie...how they are caring, kind, helpful, care about other feelings etc... I also agree with the other post about peer issues. good luck

Teresa - posted on 08/11/2010

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Hi Maureen, First it really is not unusual for boys and girls of this age to have low self esteem issues, it is at this time that they are becoming young adults and go through so many physical changes, also peer pressure and to look good and be seen wearing the 'right clothes'.
There at an age where they are discovering their own identity as indivduals and at this age its all about 'image' and how they are seen by their peers, if they choose clothes which might seem strange or not quite what you would like them to wear its just them trying to feel comfortable with themseleves and feeling ok with who they are. Being a 'twin' means they have the advantage of having someone to work out issues that they maybe find hard to disscuss with their parents and maybe at this time they feel they dont need to 'join groups as they have always been in a 'small group with each other, however to build on their confidence it might be worth giving them choices about who they would like to share their time with, maybe a supervised party at home, a BBQ with some of their friends at the house ? maybe a activity holiday away from home with some of their friends.
Because they dont have many friends does not mean they are not having a social circle it probably means they dont need as many friends right now as they have each other. Try and take themout indivdualy and build on there indivduality rather than taking them out together. Being a twin can be difficult to make friends as sometimes peers are reluctant to take the other twin away from his sibling... I hope this helps and good luck I am sure in time they will get through the transtion of being a young adult and their confidence will grow.

April - posted on 08/10/2010

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For starters, make sure that they you tell them mutliple times a day how much you love them and enjoy them and how beautiful they are to you. Secondly, instill in them to be proud of their bodies because they are heavenly gifts and are made just the way they are supposed to be. Thirdly, try to get to root of the issue, from your post, it sounds like their issues stem from peers. Maybe there is a bully in the mix.

Tracy - posted on 08/07/2010

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i'm thinking it's just a stage especially at 16 mom just keep complimenting them and talking to them you will start seeing a big change tell them your teen stories of happy times and tell them they will only be a teen once make it beautiful they don't have to have many friends at all my 13 yr old is the same way but now i see she becoming more active because of our talks..i tell you she is the only one out of all my kids that's nothing like me in my teen years ha ha ha...best wishes to u and your babies!!

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