How to Boost the Self-Image of Preteens

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**This is a guest post from Nick Diliberto from
Preteens are undergoing massive amounts of physical growth. Their height, weight, bones, muscles and internal organs are growing like crazy. Furthermore, the growth is often disproportional. Their feet might be growing faster than the rest of their bodies or their head is unusually large. This helps to explain why many preteens are a bit awkward and uncoordinated. Couple that with the comparison game that preteens play. They’re constantly comparing themselves to peers and experience feelings of inferiority when they don’t measure up. Their awkwardness reinforces those feelings. In other words, preteens often struggle with a poor self-image.

What can you do to boost their self-image?

Encourage character traits

Praise their character rather than physical appearance. The world places such a high value on outward looks, but God is more concerned with character – who you are on the inside. So, when you see a preteen welcoming a newcomer at church, give her praise. When a fifth grader decides to do something nice to his brother who he normally picks on, give him a high-five. Look for ways to offer encouragement as much as possible.

Consider doing a series on the subject

Preteens need to know they are God’s masterpiece and he is their Master Designer. They were created as-is for a purpose. Consider doing a series on how wonderful and awesome they are because the God of the universe is their creator. Also, communicate that they are undergoing massive amounts of physical change. Explain that feelings of inferiority are common, but that God created them just the way they are on purpose.

Partner with Parents

Partner with parents on this. Research continues to prove that parents have the greatest influence in the lives of young people. Parents need to encourage character traits of their preteens. They need to reinforce the Biblical message that God is our Master Designer. We’re most effective when the church and parents are working together speaking truth into the hearts and minds of preteens.

Nick Diliberto is the creator of, which provides creative curriculum and resources for preteen ministry. He is also the preteen columnist for Children’s Ministry Magazine.

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