Teenage Self-Esteem

School bullies and negative thoughts - Teenager self-esteem

Teenage self-esteem problems are a natural side effect of the passage from youth to adulthood, but some teenagers are completely overwhelmed. The fragility at this age can often be traced to outside influence in early childhood in the form of teasing or bullying.

School bullies can exacerbate a self-esteem problem in a heartbeat. Try to deal with bullying firmly and plainly, and remember that there is no shame in reporting bullies - if they are doing it to your child, they are probably doing it to someone else’s kid too.

Encourage your teen to talk about their problems, and make sure to really listen to the answers. A “I don’t want to try out for the debate club” could mean “I’m probably too stupid for the debate club”. Negative thoughts can be coloring your teen’s perception of their entire life!

Building teenage self-esteem

teenage self-esteemteenage self-esteem

"Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you. - Wayne Dyer."

If you constantly say negative things to your child, such as “You are so stupid”, “You can’t do anything right”, or “What’s wrong with you?” you may need to take a step back and evaluate the damage you are doing! The same goes for any other adult in their life.

If constant put-downs are all teens hear, their self-esteem will plummet and they could get locked into a viciously repeating cycle that could last years. If a child is made to feel worthless or stupid, pretty soon they may come to believe that they are valueless and then the real problems begin. Teenagers with low self-esteem often begin to participate in self destructive acts. They may drive recklessly, drink or smoke, indulge in high risk sexual activity or even do themselves physical harm. You need to be on the lookout for early warning signs, and get them help before such dangerous behavior spirals out of control.

Pinpointing the subtle hints of teenage self-esteem issues is what makes parenting a teen so hard. When a teenager becomes suddenly withdrawn, starts failing in school or doesn’t want to go out in public, you might want to do a little checking as to the real reason why.

Sudden weight loss or gain is often a sign of low teenage self-esteem. Many eating disorders originate from a poor self image or self confidence issues. If you can head these off before they become entrenched, you will have a chance to help your teen regain their self-esteem and nip potentially threatening health problems in the bud.

Helping your teen combat self-esteem issues can take time. The best thing you can do is encourage them in all areas of their life. Get involved with them, and show you care. Make sure to praise them and let them know their thoughts and feelings matter.

A good way to get your teen to talk to you about their life is to share a story from your own teenage years. Make some special time for the two of you - go shopping together, or ask them for advice or help with a project. If you show an interest in your child, they will feel interesting - if you ask for their help they will feel useful.

Hopefully your teen will be able to weather the rocky years between childhood and adulthood without suffering teenage self-esteem problems, but if they run into trouble at least you will be there to help the through it!

What do you need to build teen self-esteem?

Praise and encouragement

Teen self-esteem is very fragile and it doesn’t take much to damage it. If your teen feels he or she is significantly different than their peers or that they don’t fit in, their self-esteem will falter.  The teen years are challenging and difficult and teens are often full of self-doubt. It is during this time that any harsh or critical words you say may be blown out of proportion and taken to heart.

Self-esteem refers to a person’s opinion of themselves. It is your own belief about how loveable and capable you are. For a teen struggling with hormone changes and confusion, their self-esteem is easily damaged by any perceived rejection by peers or adults. Frequently they compare themselves to others and think they fall short. No matter where their strengths are, many teens focus on their weaknesses. For example, a straight A student may dwell on not doing well athletically. A very pretty teen girl may dwell on falling short academically.

The struggle to learn who they are and accept themselves can be overwhelming at best. Even though you want to be supportive, teens may go out of their way to distance themselves from their parents, locking themselves in their rooms listening to loud music, talking on the phone for hours, surrounding themselves with friends. As a parent, you may feel the opportunities to help your teen improve self-esteem have already passed.

Not true. Even when your teen appears not to be listening to you, they are hearing at least some of what you’re saying. That’s why criticism heard at this age can be so damaging. Sooner or later there will be opportunities to interact with your teen. Whenever you can, find a way to squeeze in words of praise or encouragement. Give an unexpected hug from time to time. A reassuring smile can be comforting; so can just knowing you are available to talk when they are ready.

Take an active role in your teen’s life as much as you can. Have an awareness of who their friends are and what their interests are. Pay attention to sudden signs that your teen is not okay, such as weight loss or gain, sleeping all the time, or neglecting personal appearance. If your teen has always been actively involved in sports, for example, and suddenly doesn’t want anything to do with participating, it may signal a deeper problem, such as alcohol or drugs or eating disorders. Inappropriate coping mechanisms can lead a teen into a lot of trouble, and it often all begins with low self-esteem. If you think your teen is in serious trouble, ask for help from a family doctor or school counselor.

Stay alert to every opportunity to help improve teen self-esteem. Let your teen know often that you think they are a person of high value and worth. Acknowledge their successes, big and small. Encourage them to talk to you about whatever is going on in their lives.

Set an example of good self-esteem by treating yourself with respect. Any habits you are developing to work on your self-esteem such as journaling or affirmations can be shared with your teen. Developing good self-esteem habits at a young age can make a huge difference in your teen’s life.

Low self-esteem in teenagers

Struggles of adolescence

Low self-esteem in teenagers is a common problem. Your teen is dealing with numerous emotional and physical changes. The urge to fit in with their peers is very strong, and any perceived rejection by friends or classmates leads to low self-esteem in teenagers.

Some typical struggles of adolescence are:

• Acne

• Weight problems

• Rejection by members of the opposite sex

• Feeling that they don’t fit in to a particular crowd

• Shame because they don’t excel in academics or sports

• Sibling rivalry

• Hormonal mood swings

Changes in their bodies and their own inability to control their emotions can make a teen feel confused and scared.

The most important thing you can offer your teen is a willing ear.

Encourage your teen to share his or her concerns and struggles with you. This doesn’t mean your teen will always be receptive to communication, but knowing you are available is very important, even if your teen doesn’t express that. Offer encouragement and praise whenever possible. Point out their strengths in moments of self-doubt. Remind them how important they are to you.

Also remember to set an example of good self-esteem. Your teen should see you coping with life and not putting yourself down.

The media makes adolescent struggles even worse. Young actors and actresses on TV and in the movies appear beautiful, well-dressed and self-assured. Comparisons with the rich and famous are always going to make your teen feel inadequate.


For most teens, adolescent struggles will come with years of turbulence, then will pass on their own as your teen begins to carve out an identity and develop self-confidence. For other teens, things get worse, not better.

The teen years are going to be difficult no matter what, but there are some things a parent should notice and take action on. Low self-esteem in teenagers can lead to bigger problems, such as experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or sexual activity. Eating disorders are another inappropriate coping mechanism for teens with self-esteem problems. Adolescent suicide can and does happen. Don’t put your head in the sand if your teen exhibits very troubling behavior.

Here are some warning signs for parents:

• sleeping all the time, lack of energy and motivation

• sudden drop in grades or interest in academics

• neglecting their personal appearance

• slurred speech

• skipping meals or binge eating, leading to sudden weight loss or weight gain

Signs of serious self-neglect or self-abuse should be discussed with your family doctor, a school counselor or a professional therapist. If your gut feeling is that something more is wrong than typical teenage angst, you are probably right. Don’t ignore your instincts.

For most teens, however, this is a difficult phase that will pass. During these years, offer your child praise, encouragement and support whenever possible. Set an example of good self-esteem by treating yourself with self-respect at all times. Savor the gift of watching your teen blossom into a young adult and watch their confidence grow with each difficulty they rise above.

Teenage girls self-esteem

teenage girls self-esteemteenage girls self-esteem

"One of the most courageous decisions you'll ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul."

Teenage girls self-esteem is often particularly vulnerable and shaky. They are very emotional as they go through hormonal changes. At the same time, they are seeing teens on TV that appear to be perfect, at least physically. The root of teenage girls' self-esteem problems is often that they believe they are less valuable or attractive than others, that they don’t measure up to the images of perfection shown on TV.

Physical appearance and popularity with boys are usually listed as the biggest things that affect teenage girls self-esteem. It is also affected by popularity with other girls and the dynamics of their family. If one child is favored over another, or even if the teenage girl perceives that another child is held in more favor, it wreaks havoc with her self-esteem.

Weight problems (real or imagined) and acne are some of the top things girls struggle with during the teenage years. Any sense that your daughter doesn’t “fit in” will affect her self-esteem. Not being included in social events, not being chosen for a club or sports team, or rejection by the opposite sex are other stressful events in the lives of teenage girls.

How can you as a parent help heal your daughter’s self-esteem? For parents, the biggest gift you can give your child is the gift of listening. It’s important that your daughter know that you are interested in hearing what is going on with her, and that it is safe to share her feelings, no matter how painful they are. The teen years can be tough for parents too, because parents often don’t want to remember just how painful the teenage years were.

One thing that also affects teenage girls self-esteem is that young girls today have to handle things at a much younger age than their parents did, often long before they are emotionally ready. This may make it difficult for parents to relate. Don’t dismiss your teen’s feelings just because they are happening at such a young age.

Signs that your daughter may be having serious problems and need professional help are eating disorders or signs of clinical depression, such as sleeping all the time or lack of energy and motivation. Pay attention to what she is saying, but pay equal attention to what she is not saying and any signs that she may not be okay.

You are your daughter’s role model. Sharing with her the painful events that you survived will be healing for her. Setting an example of good self-esteem as an adult is another way you can help your daughter. Assure her that these difficult days will pass for her, as they did for you. And be there for her to the best of your ability.

Children's self-esteem from teenage self-esteem

More about the teenage years

Adolescent self-esteem from teenage self-esteem

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