Self-love includes “radical honesty, positive habit building, and unconditional self-acceptance,” writes poet and author Yung Pueblo. If a single quality could ensure teens’ lifelong mental, physical and emotional well-being, it just might just be the ability to love themselves. That’s because self-love gives teens tools to conquer self-doubt, practice self-acceptance and self-care, and stay steady through the changes of adolescence. According to Shainna Ali, PhD, author of The Self-Love Workbook for Teens, teens who love themselves are more self-aware, better at organization, planning and emotional regulation, and have a stronger sense of identity. “Teenage years are actually a pivotal time to foster self-love,” writes Ali. “The earlier you establish your self-love practice, the sooner you can reap the benefits.”

Here are five things you need to know to help your teen learn to love themselves:

1. Self-love boosts self-confidence.

Confident teens value themselves and have a growth mindset when it comes to challenges, but self-love goes even deeper. When teens love themselves, they love and accept even the parts of themselves they struggle with. They know they are worthy even when they don’t feel confident: when they make a mistake, have a bad day or fall short of their own expectations. Loving themselves increases teens\’ confidence and helps them become more self-compassionate. 

2. It’s about actions, not just attitudes.

In any healthy relationship, “love combines both feeling and action,” says Darlene Lancer, LMFT. That’s especially true in teens’ relationships with themselves. Teens who love themselves take action on their own behalf. That might include speaking up for themselves, saying “no” and setting boundaries when something doesn’t feel right, taking positive risks to work towards their goals, asking for help when they need it or practicing self-care. The love they feel shows up in how they treat themselves every day.

3. Self-love helps teens have healthy relationships with others, too.

Self-love provides a powerful protective factor as teens form friendships and romantic relationships. That’s because their relationship with themselves provides a blueprint of care, respect, kindness and compassion. They know what love feels like and that they are worthy of receiving it. It makes it easier for them to see clearly when people who don’t have their best interests at heart. Self-love also helps teens develop empathy. When they are caring, respectful, kind and compassionate towards others, their relationships stay strong.

4. Self-love makes teens more resilient.

Resilience is the ability to rebound from difficulties. The teen years are full of changes and challenges, and resilience helps teens stay positive and goal-oriented even when things don’t work out the way they planned. Research shows that in teens, resilience comes from a combination of qualities like self-respect, self-compassion, social skills and positive thinking. Each of these qualities is strengthened by a foundation of self-love. That means that teens who love themselves are well-equipped to bounce back.

5. Daily habits matter most.

Dr. Shainna Ali and other experts say the best way for teens to learn self-love is to make a daily practice of “accepting, caring for, and encouraging” themselves. Over time, these small, daily habits make a big impact on teens’ brains. Some of our favorite ways to build self-love habits include practicing positive self-talk, self-compassion and self-care. Each time teens choose these healthy habits over self-criticism and self-doubt, they are one step closer to building a lifelong loving relationship with themselves.

… and here’s why we created Sanctuary

Navigating adolescence can be tough. That’s why Lucero has created a safe space for teens and tweens to just be themselves while learning healthy habits like self-love. Sanctuary is their home base inside Lucero’s world. Teens can choose and evolve their Avatars, earn Badges and add to their collection. A visit to Sanctuary helps them track their progress and shows them just how much their self-love journey is growing day by day.

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