This quote (source unknown) has really stuck with me: “The longest relationship you’ll have is the one with yourself.” In other words, self-love practices crucial because the relationship you have with yourself is forever.
Your important work as a parent or caregiver is challenging and ongoing. Thus, daily self-love routines promote sustainability and wellness. This article is an invitation to practice self-love on a regular, consistent basis.
Furthermore, the ways you love and care for yourself provides your child or teenager with models for how they might love and care for themselves. Each day, they are picking up language, mindset, and rituals from you. Even if they don’t seem to be listening or watching, I assure you, they are.
This list is meant to provide specific ideas for you to practice self-love, AND these are ideas that you can explore as a family. Each family member will need to choose the routines that best serve them or feel most relevant. Additionally, some practices will feel appropriate for daily use, while others will be more situational or fitting for occasional use, like weekly family meetings, for example. I invite you to explore these ideas together as well as individually as you each grow and nurture your relationship to yourself.
13 Ways To Support Your Teens In Growing Self-Love
- Focus on feelings. Normalize feelings– big and small. As you growing emotional intelligence, you deepen your love your whole self. Spend time naming the sensations you are facing. Additionally, encourage your children and teens to do the same. You are not your feelings; yet, you are experiencing your feelings and they are valid.
- Use loving self-talk. When you look in the mirror, smile at yourself. When you get dressed for the day, offer yourself a compliment. For example, “You have such a welcoming smile!” or “You look bright and full of energy today!” (Remember: your kids are always noticing. This practice can be personal and practiced in private, AND it can be powerful to do in their presence or with them.) Additionally, you might use affirmations with supportive messages. Recite these aloud, put them on cards or artwork, or use them in meditation. A few ideas include, “I am strong!”, “I am ready to learn today!”, and “I can share my gifts with the world.”
- Listen to your inner voice. Self-trust is a powerful way to love ourselves. When you have an inclination or a gut feeling about something, pause to explore it. Journaling, talking aloud, or sitting in meditation can help you get in touch with your inner voice. If your inner voice seems confused, you have an opportunity to slow down and ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?”
- Nurture self-compassion. As you begin this work, it can be helpful to ask yourself questions like, “How might I support a friend in this situation?” or “What would I tell a friend who was in this spot?” Slowing down, allowing yourself to think and act with kindness towards yourself is a massive act of self-love. I also invite you to explore Kristen Neff’s self-compassion exercises and meditations.
- Name and share strengths. We all have unique and beautiful gifts, and as a family, you and your loved one can identify and share these strengths with one another. Perhaps you make time to do this over breakfast, on the commute home, or anytime you notice a gift in action. “I love the way you helped your brother clean his room. You are a skilled organizer!” or “You worked so hard at your game tonight!” Alternatively, you might ask your loved one, “What are your superpowers?” or “What awesome skill did you use today?”
- Practice forgiveness. Say “I’m sorry,” when you’ve made a “mistake” and offer yourself compassion through the process; furthermore, make space to forgive others too. Forgiveness is a beautiful way that we can give ourselves and one another grace and love. The words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” can help you and/or your loved ones shift towards love.
- Create a self-love playlist. Save songs that bring you joy, speak to you, and help you feel most like yourself. Listen and repeat as often as you’d like. (And maybe you’ll even find yourself moving your body in ways that feel good or fun!)
- Commit to self-care rituals. Spend time offering yourself care. This may be taking a bath, drinking coffee on the porch, or reading. And sleep– be sure to get your rest. Carve out time in your schedule each week to take care of yourself. Furthermore, when your family is addressing weekly scheduling, make time to address self-care commitments.
- Name one thing you love about yourself each day. Write down anything and everything you appreciate about yourself. Create a jar or box that you can add these slips of self-love to. Write down anything and everything you appreciate about yourself. From “I love my pink glasses” to “I work hard on my writing.” You might include affirmations, special memories, positive self-talk, or anything else that helps you feel warm and loving towards yourself. Bonus: in a moment of doubt, read through your jar or box of self-love!
- Celebrate trying new and challenging things. When you or a loved one steps up to a new challenge, pause to honor the journey and growth. Compliment yourself or your teenager, “Congrats on learning a new skill!” or “Wow, that was so cool to see you _____. How did that feel?” I like to tell myself “I’m proud of you for ______.”
- Practice growth mindset. This is all about fostering the belief that you can grow, learn, and progress. When you focus more on effort and process than results, you may experience a sense of greater confidence. You might say, “I can always improve,” “Challenges help me grow and learn,” or “This may take some time.”
- Integrate gratitude practices into your day. Gratitude is proven to change our brains for the better! Specifically, you might like to try one of the 12 practices.
- Find support when you need it. Asking for help is self-love. I’d like to say that again: Asking for help is self-love. Whether you need help with household tasks or want to begin coaching or therapy again, reaching out for support is an act of care. What does it feel like to view each request for help as an act of self-love?
Self-Love as Security and Stability
The practices and rituals that you select to love and care for yourself can build a foundation of security and stability in your life. The same goes for your loved ones– children, teens, partners, and friends.
I invite you to notice how your relationship to yourself changes (dare I say GROWS?!) as you dedicate yourself to self-love practices.
As your teenager adds these rituals to their lives, what shifts to you notice? What are they noticing? Perhaps this will land you all back at #9, celebrating growth!
Finally, remember that self-love is about your relationship to yourself. Relationships are complex and require time, attention, and energy. As you build this conversation about self-love, together you may enjoy documenting your go-to supports, the tools that can support you in keeping your cool, with my support system map.