Discipline, Teens and Self Esteem

When he began attending Exodus, Edward had a tendency to set high expectations for himself and take on too much. Then he would become overwhelmed, and retreat sometimes for weeks. Working with Amy and Exodus mentors, Edward is in a very different place today.

A landmark study discovered that children living in low-income homes hear almost twice as many words of negative reinforcement as they do words of encouragement. These children are also more likely to experience harsh forms of discipline. Demeaning words not only fail to produce the desired behavior, it can do harm to a teen’s self esteem.

Edward credits his Mom with doing the best she could under the circumstances. She wasn’t a bad parent, just a single Mom afraid of the dangers and distractions of their impoverished neighborhood. After dropping out of school, a downward spiral might have been likely, but he met Exodus high school coordinator Amy Woerner instead.

E’s smile can light up a room. But, he’s also been known to disappear for weeks at a time, retreating from the world in anger and sadness.

Amy has found relentless acceptance and positivity to be a strong weapon against the despair and lack of motivation that many teens suffer from. Edward recalls meeting her for the first time. “This was the first time I saw a person who loved Jesus. She was so different from all the other people I had met in my life. Her energy changed the atmosphere around her.”

Edward credits Exodus with teaching him about service, helping others and understanding the importance of the “bigger picture.” We recently helped him get his first full time job, a big step. To celebrate he invited Amy to breakfast, being sure to pick up the tab. As he rapidly fired off ideas about next steps, Amy suggested he slow down and adjust to finally being in a good place. After a minute, Edward smiled. “Hey, today is not supposed to be about me,” he said, “How are you?”

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