We can only go as far as our limitations allow us. Unfortunately many of those limitations are self-imposed. As adults we know all too well that we sometimes limit ourselves unnecessarily by assuming that we lack the ability or potential to do something. It can be a self-defense mechanism – if we shut down the possibility, it will alleviate stress, guilt, and failure that comes from trying to do something hard.
If you’re a parent or guardian of a troubled teen girl this can be a frightening reality in their life. At this pivotal point in time, when she should be growing and trying new things to discover who she is, instead she may be imposing harsh self-limitations that will handicap her development as a healthy adult. You can intervene at this time to help her adjust her expectations and limitations so that she sees success as a distinct and completely possible future for her. It sounds easier said than done, of course, but there are a few ways to show her that she is capable of so much more.
Teaching Girls They’re Capable of More
- Self-Esteem – the very first step to helping a teen girl realize she is capable of more is addressing her self-esteem. Unfortunately low self-esteem has a direct link to depression, which will almost always keep her expectations low and her limitations crippling. Do everything you can to help her like and value herself as a person – it’s half the battle.
- Address her background – does she look around and see herself trapped in this neighborhood? Does she think she has to choose the jobs, economic status, and familial trends that are around her? If she is growing up in a tough area that can seem impossible to overcome. On the flip side, if she’s growing up privileged it can seem impossible to measure up to the success and education that is expected of her. Help her to know she can choose and become whatever she wants, even if it doesn’t reflect her upbringing.
- Education – Sometimes bad grades don’t reflect her actual abilities. Many troubled teens refuse to try in order to avoid failure if they think they can’t get impressive grades. Communicate to your teen that she DOES have what it takes to pass all of her classes, get scholarships, and go to any type of school she wants.
- Career – if a troubled teen girl can find an interesting career aspiration it can be a game-changer. Try not to force her toward a particular job or skill set, though it can be tempting. Find ways to show her a variety of careers and options, then show trust and support when she expresses interest in a certain career.
- Body Image – this is absolutely critical for troubled teen girls. Teaching your teen girl to have a more positive body image will not be an easy task, but there are some ways to promote a positive body image.
- Relationships – does your teen realize she deserves happy, healthy, loving relationships? She may think that fighting, dysfunctional relationships are the norm. Model healthy relationships in your home, and remind her that she deserves love and respect in her romantic and friend relationships.
- Hobbies – When troubled teens are busy with school and home responsibilities it may seem that hobbies will only add to the noise. Actually, hobbies help develop your teen’s mind and personality, and can help them see that they aren’t as limited as they think – they are capable of creativity, hard work, and success! Encourage your teen to find and pursue hobbies that she loves.
The battle against your troubled teen girl’s self-imposed limitation will be ongoing and difficult, but it’s well worth the effort. A breakthrough may come when you least expect it, and could be all the difference in her life. If you find yourself unequal to the task, or the problem has surpassed your abilities to handle – professional help may be needed. Do not feel like a failure or quitter if you need to turn for help, since some problems will only respond to professional assistance. Consider professional treatment at a residential therapeutic facility which can offer a complete program for her physical, mental, and emotional health.