“No one would notice if I was gone.”
I hear from adolescents and teens too frequently about how they feel if they stopped going to school, no one would notice or care. I dig deep with them to help them identify who would miss them. What scares me, though, is the kids who do not even voice this feeling of invisibility. I’m not only talking about quiet students either. Kids that are athletes, top students and/or involved in extracurricular voice these concerns. They do not feel they are contributing, they do not feel they are worthy, they do not feel they are significant.
I’ve written in the past about self-esteem. I’m finding it is still low. Of course, my experiences may be skewed as I am speaking about kids that are in therapy. The thing is, though, there are a lot more of them than you think. Between my full time job and part time job, I can see around fifty kids a week. Of course, not all are expressing this feeling of invisibility but a good majority is dealing with self-esteem issues.
It is not enough that parents try to help foster positive self-esteem (although please do so). Also, classmates need to.
Here are a few suggestion adolescents and teens can do to help others feel good:
Smiling at others
Praising them for a good idea/good answer
Include someone who is left out
Validate someone who they witnessed being treated unfairly (example that guy acted like a jerk. Are you okay?)
Give a genuine compliment
Ask how they are doing and then listen for a real answer. If they say fine, ask just fine? If they say good, ask why.
Look at them while you are talking
Give high fives, a touch on the shoulder, or even a hug
PLEASE share with kids you know!!!
See you tonight! Bye! I love you!
I don't know about you but often I yell a quick good bye and am out the door. My youngest will sometime run out and ask for a hug but not always. The last few outings have been different; I've made sure to hug my kids. My husband and I have made sure to kiss.
In the last week, someone I greatly respected and cared about died. My family is shocked and saddened. It has also reminded us that no amount of time on earth is guaranteed. From time to time, we become too comfortable in our lives and in our routines. This can lead us to taking things for granted, especially each other.
Here's my challenge for you:
Hug your kids more, take a second for that kiss from your partner, put the phone down to play, and tell your loved ones you love them daily! I wish it hadn't taken a tragedy to remind me.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!