“Does anyone know what self-esteem is?” asked Nydia Vázquez, a doctor of community social psychology.
For a moment, the room where 14 young teenagers gathered to hear about the concept and what it involves remained silent.
“This is the love that a person feels for himself,” said one of the 14 participants who met at the “Aprendemos Juntos” tutoring center, in Quebradillas, as part of an initiative aimed at young women, who seek to offer tools to strengthen self-love.
The answer generated other questions and immediately sparked the interest and curiosity of young women between 12 and 18 years of age.
“I want you to imagine that you are a car; whatever you want,” said Vázquez, as the answers echoed amid laughter.
The invitation is the forced foot adopted by the doctor to lead young women to reflect on the importance of self-concept, self-confidence and self-care to plan the path of life. “These are all links that belong to the same chain. The path is made with you and it will be made from you, not without you… like your car. You have to guide your car, if you guide it well , if you feel proud; if you need help; if you need to stop for gas because you need encouragement. So you have to make a decision about it because you are in charge of your life,” he highlighted to the doctor.
“It doesn’t matter if the car is new, used; If damaged and repaired… the important thing is that the path continues,” he added.
The dynamics of the workshop continues with the participation of the “adolescent coach”, Nydtzaira Delgado. Then the exercise took a practical turn to fill the message of the community social psychologist.
There young women learn how to speak for themselves; what thoughts to feed; the importance of gratitude, as well as tools to deal with criticism from others.
“The way we talk to ourselves has a power and impact that lasts forever … Women can be anything,” Delgado said.
Then it’s time to relax and unwind with a yoga session led by instructor, Michelle Giraud.
The nurse also took the opportunity to remind the teenagers that “we can always change the version of ourselves; “We are evolving beings.”
How to help?
After commenting on the importance of having a healthy self-esteem and the possible implications of not having it, Dr. Vázquez, meanwhile, invites mothers, fathers or guardians of teenagers to observe, for example, how they relate to other people; If they isolate themselves, why do they do it and, in this way, identify possible warning signs that help find alternatives to address these behaviors.
“I come from the world of social psychology and it is important to see how (teenagers) interact with other people, how they relate to other people because, when alone, the question is the ‘why?’ It’s not that he’s alone because he might be because the other group doesn’t seem like him. It’s not that he doesn’t want to be there, he needs someone to identify with. You have to look at that,” he said.
Other signs that warn that something is not right with that teenager focus on behaviors such as not wanting to eat or overeating; if they often express that they are not comfortable with others or that others reject them and, in extreme cases, the young person says that they do not want to live.
“Within knowledge, these things are set to be a warning,” said Vázquez.
But, once the adult recognizes that there is a situation to take care of, how do they approach connecting with the young person so that they are open to seeking help?
“Here it is important to understand that the adult is the one who needs help to manage the situation of the young person. The first thing is to recognize if it is a professional help that is needed because, sometimes, it can be a issue that can be resolved through a conversation and stop a little in this adult world,” said the expert.
In cases where the intervention of a human behavior specialist is necessary, Vázquez says it is important not to blame the young person, to involve them in the process and show empathy without minimizing their emotions. “We know that there are countless social influences that can make things more complicated, but we must also be interested in entering that world (of teenagers); and when I enter that world, it is no longer a matter of our competition, not the adult against this teenager… we must live together, seek to connect. If we continue to ignore them and what we do is say it’s wrong, but we don’t engage in it, then the relationship will be difficult,” he said.
Many places to learn
Meanwhile, the owner of “Aprendemos Juntos, LLC”, Vanesa Serrano, reiterated the importance of this type of interaction with young people.
“I think it should affect young women because at this stage of their lives they are forming their identity and face many challenges. By strengthening their self-esteem, we give them tools to overcome obstacles, make healthy decisions, and build positive relationships. In addition, by empowering young women, we contribute to creating a society full of love and security,” he said.
“When I look at them, I think about how I wish there were places like this when I was a teenager,” he concluded.