A critical factor in how kids view themselves is the manner in which other people talk and act around them. While growing into the teenage years and undergoing the process of becoming a young adult, kids tend to think a great deal about their futures and who they want to become. The way that they begin to classify their capability and worth in life is constructed from their surroundings and experiences. The way that their parents address them or the way their friends treat them can make or break the confidence of a kid in such a developmental stage in their life. As a teenager myself, I know that the common thought that comes to mind when seeing a teenager is to automatically assume that they are up to no good. We are not given a chance before we even open our mouths, all because of our age. Such situations may occur at school, when asking for help at a store, or even on the street when we receive the occasional side eye or cautious glances. These sorts of preconceived ideas of us are destabilizing, and I find myself talking to other adults as though I am beneath them; I feel the need to prove myself for the reassurance that they don’t view me as a delinquent.
Nevertheless, teenagers are not the only age group that can be deeply affected by the words of others. It is easy to assume that younger kids hear what we say and the words go in one ear and out the other. Oftentimes, we forget that kids are sensitive and are very easily influenced. They are learning about the world around them and will believe and repeat just about anything. I think that kids transitioning into adolescence need the most encouragement from siblings, friends, and other family members, because it is a time when the building of their self-esteem is crucial. Confidence in the way we approach life acts as a motivator in everything we do. Confidence gives us the power to try new things, meet new people, and be ourselves when we come to face the unknown. The key to helping someone to build their confidence is by talking to them like they matter, because they do matter. It is inevitable for kids to grow up and experience the darker parts of life, so sheltering them is useless. However, we must remind kids all around us that, just because bad things happen to them sometimes, it does not make them bad in any way. I believe that people of all ages should be treated with an equal amount of respect and worth, so that way everyone understands their value in this world.
Article and Photos by Chloe
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