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Teen Self Esteem

Self Esteem - someone's opinion of themselves and their worth and value

When a child or young adult struggles with low self-esteem they tend to avoid situations where they think there’s risk of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes. A child with low self-esteem will more than likely be having negative thoughts about their worth and value as a person. Feeling that they are a bad person, maybe because of something that they have said or done, or perhaps feeling worthless or a failure because they don’t feel as good as their friends, these thoughts are something that need to be shared and talked about. 

What causes low self-esteem?

There may be many reasons why your child or young adult struggles with low self-esteem. Some common causes are:

  • unsupportive parents, carers or others that play an influential role in their life

  • friends who are bad influences

  • stressful life events such as divorce or moving houses

  • trauma or abuse

  • poor performance at school or unrealistic goals

  • mood disorders such as depression

  • anxiety

  • bullying or loneliness

  • ongoing medical issues

Common signs of low self-esteem

Your child can experience and show both emotional and physical signs of low self-esteem. Do you recognise any of them? 


  • feeling unloved and unwanted

  • not being able to deal with normal levels of frustration

  • fear of failure or embarrassment

  • low levels of motivation and interest


  • avoiding new things and not taking up opportunities

  • blaming others for their own mistakes

  • negative self-talk and comparisons to others

  • difficulty making friends.

  • can’t take compliments and shows mixed feelings of anxiety or stress

A young person with healthy self-esteem is more likely to display positive behavioural characteristics, such as:

  • acting independent and mature

  • taking pride in their accomplishments/achievements

  • accepting frustration and dealing with it responsibly

  • trying new things and challenges

  • helping others when possible

Here are some ways in which you can help and support your child:

There are things you can do to support your child to have positive self-esteem, but it’s also important to remember that teenage self-esteem develops and changes quite frequently over time. If your child doesn’t show signs of positive self-esteem immediately, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong!

  • When your child says a negative phrase about themselves, respond with a positive thought

  • Help your child set small achievable goals

  • Educate them on the importance of making mistakes

  • Encourage them to voice and talk about their own thoughts and opinions.

  • Praise them for trying and making an effort instead of focusing on the end result

  • Try to spend some one-on-one time with your child every day

It seems to be getting harder and harder for a parent/carer to really know what their child or young adult is thinking or feeling. Keeping up with all the different social media platforms or the latest trends, it can be hugely overwhelming for adults so we can only imagine how difficult it can be for children and teens of today.


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