Teaching Your Child Self-Confidence Can Prevent Future Substance Use

If there is one thing that might have a meaningful influence on reducing your child's risk of future substance use, would you do it? Medical researchers have identified self-confidence as one of the most important variables in a person's tendency toward addiction. Understanding how it works and why boosting self-confidence can be a good preventative measure will prepare you and your family in the face of the rising addiction epidemic among young people.

The Importance of Self-Esteem 

Self-confidence, or self-esteem, refers to a person's perception and judgment about themself. Throughout a person's developmental trajectory, the perception about oneself forms after acting in daily life and thinking about these actions and how others perceive these actions. Because it depends on daily experiences, a person's vision of themself may have natural fluctuations.

A child with self-confidence experiences minimum fluctuations in how he or she evaluates the self. The child feels good about themself. The child can also realistically recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. To make this happen, parents and caregivers need to signal consistently about how this child is valued and loved. An emotionally stable environment often fosters a healthy person's self-esteem.

To children with low self-confidence or self-esteem, the fluctuations can be dramatic and overwhelming, often determined by their current actions. They tend to have more negative thoughts and feelings affected by the immediate environment. Deep down, they do not believe themselves to be important. There is a deep fear of negative feedback from people around. Such an individual thinks nobody likes them. There is a constant feeling of loneliness and alienation from others.

Researchers found a close association between self-esteem, optimism, and adaptability. This explains why people with low self-esteem tend to develop mental health issues such as a depressed outlook on life, anxiety, stress due to inadaptability, and a higher risk of substance addiction. For example, some researchers find that the lower the self-esteem, the higher the likelihood of drug addiction in girls. A general rule is, when you don't feel well about yourself, you don't treat yourself well.

Low Self-Esteem and Substance Addiction Among Teens

During the teenage and adolescent years, the relationship between a young person's self-confidence and mental well-being shows. Teenagers with low self-esteem may experience depression, a sense of shame, and fear of peer pressure. Many feel socially inept without using substances as their peers do. This is why low self-esteem becomes a springboard into adolescent drug problems; it is considered one of the leading catalysts of addiction among teens.

Treating teen addiction also requires health professionals to improve these young people's self-esteem. Without this part of the work, relapse can easily happen because low self-esteem will always be the underlying condition for mental illness, which invites self-medication.

When cognitive-behavioral therapists work with youth battling addiction, they often find that the sources of low self-esteem come from close relationships such as family members and friends. Instead of positively affirming one's value, these relationships have played a negative role, sometimes through trauma and abuse, in adding stress and confusion to these young people. Another source of low self-esteem comes from the over-consumption of social media. Young girls tend to develop negative body image, leading to eating disorders and substance use disorder (SUD).

Parenting and Children's Self-Confidence

Because children's self-confidence or self-esteem is closely related to the psychological satisfaction they got from close relationships, parents and caregivers are in a natural and crucial position to shape their children's self-confidence early on. Two principles of raising self-confident children are affirmation and reducing psychological pain. Through doing both, parents can raise emotionally resilient and self-affirming children who can withstand future storms and temptations in life without resorting to substances.

Parents should build their relationships with children to be closer. This requires time investment and commitment. Spending time with their children each day, especially when they are in a developmental state, can help children know that they are important and dear to their parents. Parents can also understand what is going on in the emotional world of a child. Giving enough attention and deep emotional engagement can help build up a child's self-confidence.

Parents need to learn how to read their children. When they seem stressed or worried, parents should be emotionally available to talk about things and help them solve the problem. This is a destressing exercise that helps children build up problem-solving muscles and learn how to rely on others for support.

Many parents know how to use praise and encouragement to boost their children's self-confidence, but the key is consistency and an emphasis on self-value. One's self-value does not depreciate even when one makes a mistake or something bad happens in the immediate environment. Parents need to have realistic expectations and refrain from pressuring their children into succeeding beyond their abilities.

Wise parents help their children learn about their inner-self. They encourage children to look inside themselves and find satisfaction from being their true selves. With these strong self-concepts, parents can become a powerful force in the fight against teen SUD. Helping your children know how to make healthy and wise decisions will pay off in the future.

You might know that self-confidence is important for children, but do you know that boosting children's self-confidence from an early age can lower their risk of substance use in the future? Scientists have found self-confidence (or self-esteem) to be closely associated with the risk of substance addiction in young people. It is never too late to change your parenting style into one that helps build up your children's self-confidence. If your child is already struggling with substance use and low self-esteem, you can find competent interventionists at South Florida Intervention. We help teens unlearn self-devaluing beliefs and teach them to celebrate themselves positively while reconstructing their perception of self. We can reach teens inside their emotional world. Treatment is only successful as clients understand how to shift their thinking from negative self-talk to positive self-affirmations. By using non-confrontational recovery coaching with young people, we have helped many teens and adolescents. Call us today at (202) 390-2273.