Improve self esteem

When teenagers feel good about themselves they are better equipped to develop: 

  • the confidence to make the right choice about people and situations
  • the resilience to about cope with stressful situations and bounce back when things go wrong (Anxiety Workbook)
  • the inclination to stick at things when they become a bit tricky 

There are a number of ways in which you help to improve your teen’s self-esteem. 

  1. Trying new things for fun not necessarily success

Encourage them to try new thing so that they can find out what they’ll enjoy and what they may be good at.  

Hand in hand with this it’s important to help them understand that everyone can’t be great at everything and that the enjoyment of developing the ability to master a new activity can be hugely satisfying.  So it’s worth them putting the effort in as they begin to understand the difference between self-acceptance and self- improvement. How Can You Be Happy Again?

  1. Praising the effort not the outcome

When they do try hard, acknowledge their energy and effort so that they begin to understand that it’s not just about being praised when they succeed. Concentrating on their efforts will also lessen the impact of an outcome which may fail.

  1. Acknowledge the existence of the inner critic

Talk to your teen about the dangers of being self–critical. Explain that most people experience that negative voice from time to time – if you can give examples in your own life so much the better. Explain how it prevented you from doing things and how much better life became when you stopped listening to that inner critic.

Ask them to write down the negative things they think about themselves and ask if they would say that to a good friend? This can often help them to reframe thoughts in a true, fair and kind way. 

  1. Helping them “fake it till they make it”

Talk to them about “faking” self-esteem in social situations through adopting a confident body posture, making eye contact and smiling. Again it’s helpful to model this and explain that you don’t always feel good in certain situations but that there are practical things they can do to get through them AND boost their self esteem

  1. Separating the drains from the radiators

Some people will be constantly negative and can tear you down. These are “drains” Others will be supportive and build you up – these are “radiators” Help your child to use these analogies to choose friends that make them feel good about themselves. And encourage them to be that sort of friend themselves

  1. Accentuate the positive

Ask them what went well in their day to help them break the cycle of getting caught up in things that go wrong.

Give examples from your own day – “that was terrible meeting, but you know what on the way back I got such a lovely compliment from my colleague about my positive attitude to life….”

  1. Help them be the person they want to be

Could they volunteer in a local charity, help a classmate with homework, do some shopping for a neighbour, get involved in fundraising? Doing things they are proud of will help to build their self-esteem

  1. Help them to develop a healthy attitude towards social media

This obviously has a huge effect so it is useful to remind them that it is more important to be kind than it is to be thin or attractive. Remind them that posts are a snapshot in time which are often exaggerated and are unlikely to reflect the daily life of people generally. 

It’s tough to know where to draw the line but it’s really important to err on the side of guidance rather than micro management. Doing the latter will only reinforce the fact that they believe you don’t trust them to make the right decisions which will worsen their self-esteem.

So guide them gently and be their biggest cheerleader

If you have tried these suggestions and are still very concerned about your child’s self-esteem you might want to seek support from a teacher, school counsellor or psychologist.This blog may also be of interest.   Help! My University Child is Stressed!!!

I hope this has been helpful


I make every effort to ensure that advice on this website is accurate and up to date. As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals I cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can I be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.


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