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Self Esteem Issues and Teens

Adolescence is a challenging time of development in a person’s life. It is filled with difficult life lessons, temptations, successes, failures, and transience’s.

The societal pressures that are placed on teens in the United States are immense. It is important to note that self-esteem issues are highly common among the youth of America. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help a teenager overcome low self-esteem. Adolescence is a time of growth; learning how to develop and expand one’s self-esteem is part of being a teenager.


There are several different possible factors that can contribute to the development of low self-esteem in teens. There is no single cause that can be attributed to a teenager’s low self-esteem.

  • Parents; many teenagers have parents who constantly critique and criticize their choices and/or behaviors. Even though this may seem harmless, consistently being put down can lead the teen to feel undervalued and maintain an erroneous notion that they are constantly unable to complete tasks properly.
  • Appearance; adolescence is a time period that physical maturation occurs. This can result in difficult changes to one’s appearance (weight gain, psychical development, acne…etc.).
  • Unrealistic expectations; it is not uncommon for young people to feel pressures from unrealistic expectations (from parents, teachers, coaches…etc.). This can lead to a teenager feeling that they are unable to live up to the expectations set for them.
  • Peers; teens can be harsh and judgmental. If a teenager feels like an outcast it can have damaging effects on one’s self-esteem.

For many young people it is a combination of the above factors. Regardless of the causes, with the proper support, developing a healthy self-esteem is highly possible for any young person.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Every adolescent is different, and low self-esteem can manifest uniquely in each teen. Typically, young people suffering from low self-esteem also experience low self-worth and generally hold a negative self-view. Some of the typical signs that a teenager with low self-esteem may exhibit include the following:

  • Fear of failure
  • Feeling unloved
  • Avoiding new things
  • Lack of interest engaging in new opportunities
  • Inability to handle normal levels of frustration
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Walking with one’s head down
  • Excessive negative self-talk
  • Lowered levels of motivation
  • Difficulty maintaining friendships
  • Unable to receive compliments
  • Does not make eye contact when speaking
  • Constant apologizing

Helpful Tips

There are many ways to help your teenager build a more accurate and positive self-view, and in turn, elevate their self-esteem. Here are some helpful tips you can try out:

  • Ask your teenager for advice—young people love to be helpful and show off their problem-solving abilities. Give your teen the opportunity to help by asking for their opinion and suggestions.
  • Be generous with praise—it is easy to criticize when your teenager is doing something incorrectly, but it is essential to also make it a point to provide compliments.
  • Encourage the exploration of interests and development of talents—it always feels good spend time doing something you are interested in, and this is no exception for adolescents. Support your teenager in following their passions and interests. This can provide an excellent opportunity for peer acceptance.
  • Show affection when allowed—teenagers may not want a hug before you leave, or a good-bye kiss, but some may. Ask your child for permission before showing physical affection, but make sure to continue to ask and not assume that they never want a hug.

Helping your teenager build a healthy self-esteem can result in long-term benefits, that can be useful throughout the remainder of one’s adolescence as well as the duration of one’s adult life.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact an individual for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

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