Puberty can be a difficult time for children. They are learning about their own bodies at the same time that society is increasingly telling them how to feel and behave. You can take an active role as a parent to help reinforce your child’s self-esteem. Here are some easy ways to teach your child to feel confident.

Create a Good Wardrobe

Not all children have an innate sense of style. Try to pay attention to what patterns or looks your child gravitates towards. Children often choose baggier fits during puberty because they may be self-conscious about their bodies. You can help them learn about how to play up their best features without hiding them. They shouldn’t be afraid to experiment as they come into their own. If your child feels awkward you can even share embarrassing photos of your younger self to show them that this is something everyone goes through.

Invest in Their Smile

Your child might be growing into his or her smile as well. Now that their baby teeth are out of the way your child’s new teeth may not have grown in perfectly straight. Braces are an expensive but worthwhile investment. These apply gentle pressure to gradually correct the alignment of your child’s teeth for a winning smile.

Give Them Praise

…but not in the way you might think. Don’t make too many comments about your child’s weight or shape. Compliment your child’s achievements instead. Notice their progress in school or if they’ve helped around the house. These simple comments show your child that they have value beyond what they look like. Respond with kindness instead of criticism if your child comes to you with specific concerns about their appearance.

Encourage Their Interests

Who does your child want to become? They might not even know yet. After-school programs are a great way for your child to sample many different activities. They can try sports, crafts, or a more niche group focused on pop culture trends. Many parks and recreation offices also offer classes and clubs if your child isn’t finding something at school that looks fun. Structured activities help your child focus. They give your child something to look forward to. A club or class establishes a sense of identity that is so much richer than his or her appearance.

Remind your child that physical development is normal. Their bodies will change as they get older and that’s nothing to be afraid of.

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