A note from our Editor-in-Chief: I was approached by a representative of Whole New World to promote The Australian Teenage Expo in Melbourne this August. Upon learning about the expo, I offered to run this post and one other at well below my usual sponsorship fees because I believe the expo and this content is important for you to know, to read, and to share. Stay tuned to the end to find out how to win one of 10 double passes to attend The Australian Teenage Expo and don’t forget to share this with every teen and parent you know.
What it means to have respect for yourself, your body and others
By Sonya Karras
- To hold in esteem or honour
- To show regard or consideration for
- To refrain from intruding upon or interfering with
When looking into some of the major issues that affect teenagers; bullying, self-esteem, binge-drinking, sexting, substance abuse and anxiety; respect (or lack there of) is the underlying factor in the majority of cases. Most of these issues stem from a lack of respect for ones self, for others, or for authority; be that of law enforcement, teachers, schools or even simply what is considered to be ‘the norm’.
Being a teen is a difficult gig; changes in our appearance, our interests, our thoughts and beliefs, our moods and sometimes even the friendship groups we have worked so hard to ‘in’ on. By being subject to ‘mass communicated’ criticism and praise via public podiums, teens these days have additional pressures; namely social media. And whilst it gives people a sense of connection we never thought possible, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram often mean teens are met with unwanted pressure of trying to be perceived in a certain (and often unattainable and unsustainable) way.
Disrespect really does form the foundation of every issue a young person has to deal with; either through a lack of respect for themselves, or a lack of respect for others. Through our work with teenagers, we endeavor to address this and instill a sense of respect and value.
Respect for yourself and your body:
A lack of or misguided perception of respect for ones self or body can come from having low-self esteem, or the need to be viewed a certain way. This is often reflected through our clothing, actions and approach towards our health.
Respect for yourself starts with the way you dress:
- Everyone has the right to dress how he or she wants.
- Choosing clothing that reflects your personality and how you want to be interpreted shows you are happy and confident with who you are.
- Dress how you want and do not get caught up in dressing a certain way because that’s what you’re told is cool. This will only leaving you feeling uncomfortable, not yourself and may attract unwanted attention and undeserved stigma.
Making a conscious effort to cherish and nurture your body shows respect for yourself and your health:
- This does not mean fad diets, counting calories or obsessive exercise – it is important to fuel your body with healthy and nutritious foods as well as enjoying a treat every now and then.
- Make a conscious decision to not actively participate in dangerous behaviors like binge-drinking or taking banned substances.
- Making safe choices around sexual health; knowing what you are ready to do and ensuring your partner shows you care and respect.
This can be difficult for teens who are living in a world where peer-judgment is everywhere and decisions are made simply because ‘everyone else is doing it’. It’s so important for teens to learn (from their peers, teachers and parents) that making your own choices to not follow the crowd doesn’t make them unpopular, but rather emphasizes a heighted sense of respect for themselves.
Respect for others, communities, cultures and the law
Treating others with respect is the second side to the discussion and can often be the hardest to grasp. You can still show someone respect and treat them with acceptance and kindness, without necessarily agreeing with them or condoning their actions or beliefs.
- Not engaging in arguments or altercations; physical or verbal.
- Following the law and rules in place.
- Not passing judgment on others who may be seen as ‘different’ to you.
- Showing kindness and sound judgment when interacting online; not posting inappropriate photos of others, writing nasty messages or ignoring another interaction.
Expressing respect for others can often come back to having a solid understanding of respect for yourself, for example deaths and injuries resulting from alcohol fuelled violence could be avoided by educating people about respecting themselves (by not binge-drinking or taking banned substances), but also respecting others despite your differences.
By making sure you engage in open and honest discussions with your teen, mapping out expectations and demonstrating what respect is, you can tackle the tricky subject. Your child is more likely to have respect for authority, others and themselves if they know they can talk to you, share their concerns and feel safe confiding in you. It is important to follow through with these discussions; lead by example and live your life showing respect to yourself and others. You need to be the role model your child can look up to.
Sonya Karras is Co-Founder of The Australian Teenage Expo and founded Whole New World in 2000, a successful school-based education company committed to educating Australian youth on drugs, alcohol and celebrating safely.
The Australian Teenage Expo is running from 29 August to 31 August 2013 at The Melbourne Showgrounds, for more information please visit www.teenageexpo.com.au or facebook.com/AustralianTeenageExpo
To win a double pass to attend The Australian Teenage Expo simply comment with the answer to this question: What do you wish someone had told you when you were a teen?
The best 10 answers will win a double pass each.
The legal bits:
- This competition is open to residents of Australia
- The competition opens 5pm 26th July and closes 5pm 16th August
- Tickets only valid 29th August to 31st August 2013 at The Melbourne Showground
- Winners will be notified by the email address they use to comment, and will be asked to provide a postal address for the tickets