Being a teenager can be tough. Think back to your teenage years- if I had to guess, It wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine!

Adolescence is a major stage in human development. It’s marked by significant physical, emotional, and social changes. One of the critical aspects of this period is the development of self esteem! Self esteem can profoundly impact a teenager’s mental health, academic performance, and social interactions. Understanding some of the factors that influence self-esteem in teenagers is essential for parents, educators, and anyone involved in youth development.

No one is a perfect parent or mentor, but doing your best to help foster healthy self esteem in a teenager can be extremely beneficial. Keep reading to learn more.

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Here’s what we’ll discuss:

  1. What is Self Esteem?
  2. Factors that Influence Self Esteem
  3. The Role of Social Media
  4. Ways to Enhance a Teenagers Self Esteem
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What is Self Esteem?

Simply put, self esteem is the way we view and value ourselves. If you have a high or healthy self esteem, you typically value your accomplishments, abilities, and who you are as a person overall. If you have low self esteem, you may doubt yourself and what you’re capable of, feel like you aren’t deserving of good things, or harshly criticize yourself.

For teenagers, whose identities and perceptions of themselves are still forming, self esteem is particularly susceptible to various influences.

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Factors That Influence Self Esteem

Here are just some of the factors that could influence a teenager’s self esteem:

  • Body Image–  this is often a big one! Teenagers undergo tons of physical and mental transformations thanks to puberty. With so many changes, it’s understandable that they would be a little self conscious. But “a little” can turn into an unhealthy amount pretty quickly. Self esteem and body image are often found to be directly linked- its common for someone to have negative self esteem if they make negative observations and comparisons about their body.
  • Academics– some teens heavily associate their self worth with their academic performance. Teens can face a lot of pressure to do well in school from their teachers, family, and even their peers. Typically, low academic performance is associated with low self esteem and vice versa. But even if a teen is doing well in school, if they have low self esteem, they might still not think they are doing good enough.
  • Family Environment– think about your family members that surrounded you daily while growing up. They probably influenced your self esteem and how you felt about yourself. A supportive and nurturing family contributes positively to a teenager’s self worth. In contrast, negative family interactions like criticism, neglect, or high conflict, can lead to low self esteem.
  • Social Comparison– when it comes to comparison, is there a more difficult time period than adolescence?  It’s very common teens to compare themselves with other teens who they see at school or online. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy in many areas like body image or looks, financial situations, academics, and popularity.

teenager studying | The Peaceful Mind Counseling Center

The Role of Social Media

In this modern era, the internet can provide us with so much at our fingertips! It’s fun, exciting, and can sometimes be damaging at the same time. Social media has many pros and many cons. The way you “should” limit social media access for teens looks different for each family.

Platforms like instagram allow your teen a glimpse into the lives of people at their school and also all over the world. Its easy to fall into the trap of comparison, especially for teenagers! The thing about instagram is that it is just a glimpse. Remind your teen that no ones life is perfect. Social media is also often full of photoshop and major exaggerations- people tend to only post the good moments.

The constant exposure to the carefully curated images of others can lead to unrealistic comparisons and feelings of inadequacy.

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Ways to Enhance a Teenagers Self Esteem

So, what can you do to boost your teenagers self esteem? Great question. There are many things you can do, so let’s talk about some of them.

  • Encourage positive body talk– promote a healthy body image by focusing on keeping the body healthy and strong. Set a good example by eating nourishing foods and encouraging your teen to do the same. Encourage them to stay active in ways that they enjoy. Don’t talk negatively about your own body in front of your teen, either.
  • Praise your teens– give your teen compliments! Empower them by reminding them that they are smart, kind, and capable of whatever they set their mind to. Praise their efforts and achievements. Provide them with positive feedback when they do something well. Make them feel like a million bucks.
  • Encourage new experiences– new experiences and challenges build resilience and confidence. Help them find a hobby they enjoy. Encourage them to hangout with their friends who are good examples. Show up for them when they want to try something new or try out for the high school sports team.
  • Guide them on their self discovery journey– you can plant little seeds to help your teen through the crazy journey of adolescence. Help them figure out what their values are, what’s important to them, and who they want to be. This will help build their confidence.
  • Promote healthy social media use– educate your teenager about the impacts of social media and encourage them to take breaks. Promote a balanced approach to social media use, emphasizing quality over quantity of interactions. Remind them that what they see on instagram isn’t always reality.

Final Thoughts on Self Esteem and Teenagers

Teenagers face a crazy amount of physical, emotional, and social changes. Especially in this modern age of social media, being a teen can be really hard. Self esteem does not always come easy- it needs to be cultivated. It can be a complex journey.

By praising your teen, focusing on healthy body image, encouraging them to try new experiences you can help build that resilience and positive self worth in your teen. Talk to them openly about social media and what can be hard about it. Be a role model- work hard, be nice to yourself, and show them that they are worthy and good enough.

If your teen is struggling with low self esteem or other mental health issues, please contact us today!

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