Critical Ways to Help Boost Your Teen’s Self-Esteem

The teenage years can be an awkward time. Hormones, brain growth, academic stress, and bullying—these can all be a lot to handle for a teen. Add social media, peer pressure, and the media with perfect body images into the mix, and it can spell diminished confidence. Eighty-five percent of people suffer from low self-esteem, but teenagers are specifically prone to it.

Not only are the teenage years difficult for teens, but they are also hard on their parents. Seeing your child suffer from low confidence is often one of the hardest experiences as a parent. However, you aren’t powerless and can aid in your teen’s self-esteem development. There are some simple things you can do to help your child appreciate their self-worth.

Group of teenagers in the parkSelf-Worth and Self-Esteem Builders

Here are possible vulnerabilities, along with four powerful self-love quotes that give insight into how to boost your teen’s self-esteem.

When they feel they aren’t attractive enough…

“To be beautiful means to be yourself.
You don’t need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh, Monk and Poet

Teenagers, in particular, tend to distort body images, which can create challenging issues, including food disorders. It’s hard to feel confident in yourself when there are unrealistic, heavily edited photos of models flooding social media that reinforce the image for the brain, telling our young teens that they should look more like them.

A great way to help your teen is to guide them in saying affirmations each morning and night right before they go to sleep to help them accept themselves for who they are. Feeling beautiful begins with accepting yourself.  

Affirmations that help with discovering your own beauty include:

  • I love myself.
  • I’m grateful for everything that my body does for me.
  • I am comfortable in my own skin.
  • My body deserves kindness.

When teens feel they aren’t smart enough…

“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.”
~Dr. David M. Burns, Psychiatrist

It’s common for teenagers to feel discouraged when they aren’t getting good grades, and for overachievers, perfect grades. As a parent, it can be challenging to stay calm and supportive when your child isn’t performing well academically. It can be easy to forget that if your child is studying and not getting good grades, they could be struggling with their mental health or self-esteem.

Teenage girl doing her homework at breakfastThe pressure to be perfect falls heavily on teens, often causing immense stress and an inability to focus in school. Remind your child that they don’t have to be perfect. Let them know that you love them and are proud of them no matter what. Grades don’t reflect their worth. Offer to support them academically or help them find a friend to tutor them rather than criticize them for struggling or resisting homework.

By providing this encouragement, you will help to reduce your teen’s anxiety levels and in turn, improve their grades.

Related reading: “Redirecting Teen Defiance into Healthy Self-Esteem.”


When they feel unsure about their future…

“If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr., Minister and Activist

The teenage years are full of big decisions, including what your child would like to do after high school. It can be overwhelming for your teen when thinking about the future, especially if they don’t yet know themselves very well. When other teens talk about their futures or know what they want as a career, it might scare your teen if they don’t know what their future holds. They may even feel worthless, believing they have no chance of contributing to society in the future.

A great way to combat low self-worth is to empathize with the fear surrounding the uncertainty of the future and remind your teen that it is okay to have these feelings as long as they continue to move forward. Let your teenager know that their confusion is valid, and talk to them about all their options after high school. Accent their strengths and unique abilities.

There are many “next steps” that aren’t commonly discussed at school, such as taking a gap year, pursuing technical school, or beginning a college career at a community college. Your teen may need reassurance that it is okay to be independent in their choices.


When their sense of self-worth takes a hit…

“Self-esteem is made up primarily of two things:
feeling lovable and feeling capable.”
~Jack Canfield, Author

It’s common for teens to feel a loss of self-worth at times. They may see other teenagers at school (or on social media) that appear to be living a life that they want or may envy. It’s easy to experience low self-esteem when you think others are more capable or lovable than you.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do as a parent to help boost your teen’s self-esteem is to remind them daily that they are loved. Validate them regularly in areas where they are capable or excel. Be attentive to your child’s love language and show them love in the way they can best receive it.

Teenage boy with his dad after playing basketball togetherEncourage them to get involved in fun activities such as drama, play a sport, or write for the school paper. To feel capable, they need experiences that build confidence and help them feel accomplished. It’s the little things that can boost and develop a new sense of self-worth.

Overall, there is no “one size fits all” approach to improving your teenager’s self-esteem, but there are simple ways you can help your teen feel good about themselves. It may take time, but your efforts will be rewarded when you see your child blossom with newfound confidence.

Deep dive: “Parenting Your Teenager with Emotional Intelligence.”

If you’d like support through our parenting class, "Hacking the Teen Brain," check out our resources. And if you'd like personalized parent coaching, contact us at 406-577-2100 or email jennifer@heartmanity.com today!

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Guest Blogger: Luke StraussGuest Blogger: Luke Strauss
Luke Strauss is a content creator at Siege Media. He primarily covers topics related to wellness and career development. When he’s not writing he enjoys exploring, making music, and spending time with his friends and family.

Posted in Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

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