Low Self-Esteem: Tips for Helping Your Teen

Teen with low self esteemThe teenage years are often a very volatile phase of life. Moods, behaviors, and relationships may swing up and down on a daily, or even hourly basis. And this is often a time when many teens struggle with periods of low self-esteem. Estimates say that up to half of all adolescents will struggle with low self-esteem.  

But how do you know when your teenager is dealing with low self-esteem? Parents of teenagers already know that open communication is also a challenge of the teenage years.  

Check out the following warning signs that your teenager may be dealing with low self-esteem:  

  • Observe when your teenager is talking to others. Often, a teen with low self-esteem will look down or to the side when talking to peers or especially adults. This is an indication that your teenager doesn’t feel “worthy” when interacting with the other person.  

  • Your teenager may make passing statements like “I could never do that” or “I will definitely fail this Chemistry test.” Negative “I statements” are common indicators of low self-esteem in teens. These statements are a reflection of your teen’s opinions of him, and when these are negative, it’s a good sign that your teenager is struggling with low self-esteem.  

  • Notice your teenager’s conversations about others. Is the tone usually punitive or negative? Does he often put others down or seem to focus on the negative things about peers? If so, this could be a cue that your teenager is putting down others as a way to combat his or her own low self-esteem.  

  • Watch for body language signs. You can tell a lot by observing the nonverbal communication of others. Does your teen’s posture look “minimizing,” that is, does he walk with his head down and looking at the ground? A teen with low self-esteem often carries himself in stark contrast to a confident, outgoing teen.  

  • Watch for excessive bragging. Whether about appearance, academics, athletics abilities, or anything else, excessive bragging is a good sign your teenager may be masking his low self-esteem. A teenager, or adult for that matter, who values himself typically has no need to brag about accomplishments. This type of behavior generally means the teenager is trying to convince others he is valuable, thus adding personal value to himself.  

  • The amount of social interactions and peer activities your teenager engages in is often another clue. Does your teenager seem to hide out in his room all day and night? Or does he have little in terms of peer interactions? A teenager with a poor social life is often a good candidate for low self-esteem.  

  • Watch to see if your teen seems to constantly apologize, even when it seems inappropriate. Teens with low self-esteem often feel they are unworthy, can’t do anything right, or simply “mess up” all the time. A teenager who constantly seems to be apologizing for things, even when socially it doesn’t seem necessary, is often a teenager with low self-esteem.  

Some helpful tips to improve your teenager’s low self-esteem:  

  • Focus on effort and accomplishments, not PERFECTION! Teach and encourage your teenager to be proud of his efforts instead of always trying to be #1 or excel at everything he tries to do. Mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities, not failures.  

  • Teach your teenager how to use Positive Self-Talk. Positive Self-Talk helps your teenager boost low self-esteem by turning negative thinking into positive thinking. Low self-esteem is generally perpetuated by these self-disparaging, negative self-talk statements. Statements like “I can do this. I’ve studied hard,” and “I know I tried my best and that’s all that matters” should be encouraged to promote self esteem.  

  • Encourage your teenager to try new things. Trying new things and meeting new friends can be a great self-esteem booster for your teen.  

  • Help your teen learn to set goals and then take steps to accomplish them. This is a learned process that can help a teen with low self-esteem feel better about himself.

So there you have it! Some warning signs of a teen with low self-esteem and what to do for your teenager who may have them. We hope that you now feel more armed as a parent to deal with your teen’s low self-esteem. If you try some of the tips and find your teen to still have signs of low self-esteem, please Contact Us today to learn how Teen Counseling can boost your teenager’s self-esteem into the stratosphere! 

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