Self-esteem and teenagers
While it can be normal for a teenager to lack confidence or be disappointed in themselves at times, people with self-esteem issues often view themselves as unable and unworthy.
Low self-esteem can be particularly hard for young people as it’s a time when they’re exposed to new life events, like starting high school or work, and forming new friendships and relationships. Keep reading to understand self-esteem issues that may come up for your teenager and ways to help your child feel better about themselves and their capabilities.
This can help if you:
- suspect your child is suffering from low self-esteem
- want to learn how to build your child’s self-esteem
- would like to identify the causes of your child’s low self-esteem.
Why your child’s self-esteem is important
Good self-esteem helps teenagers try new things, take healthy risks and solve problems. It gives them a solid foundation for their learning and development and will set them up for a healthy and positive future. A young person with healthy self-esteem is more likely to display positive behavioural characteristics, such as:
- acting independently
- assuming responsibility
- taking pride in their accomplishments
- tolerating frustration
- attempting new tasks and challenges
- handling positive and negative emotions well
- offering assistance to others.
How can low self-esteem affect my child?
When a child has low self-esteem they tend to avoid situations where they think there’s risk of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes. These can involve school work, making friends, and trying new activities, which are all important parts of a healthy teenage life.
Left unaddressed, low self-esteem can lead to other problems, which can have an even greater impact on your child’s wellbeing. These may include:
- relationship troubles or difficulty interacting with other people
- negative moods such as feeling sad, anxious, ashamed or angry
- low motivation
- poor body image
- earlier sexual activity
- reliance on alcohol and drugs to feel better about themselves.
What can cause low self-esteem?
How a person feels about themselves is a result of their direct experiences and how they deal with situations. The most common causes of low self-esteem in teenagers are:
- criticism or neglect from their parents, carers or others that play an influential role in their life
- negative peers or friends
- stressful life events such as divorce or relocation
- trauma or abuse
- poor performance at school or unrealistic goals
- mood disorders such as anxiety or depression
- bullying or loneliness
- ongoing medical issues.
Signs of low self-esteem
A child with low self-esteem will more than likely be having negative thoughts about their worth and value as a person. Some general signs that your child has low self-esteem include:
- avoiding trying new things
- feeling unloved and unwanted
- blaming others for their own shortcomings
- showing emotional indifference
- inability to tolerate normal levels of frustration
- negative self-talk and comparisons to others
- a persistent fear of failure or embarrassment
- difficulty making friends
- low levels of motivation and interest
- being dismissive of compliments irregular feelings of anxiety or stress.
There are things you can do to support your child to have positive self-esteem, but it’s also important to remember that self-esteem develops and changes overtime. If your child doesn’t show signs of positive self-esteem immediately, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong!
Your can help your child develop positive self esteem with tips here.