With changing bodies, the struggle to excel in academics and sports, and the pressure from the internet to look “perfect,” it’s no wonder why teens often struggle with low self-esteem. Here are some ways you as a parent can help your teen’s low self-esteem.
What Causes Teenage Low Self-Esteem?
In truth, low self-esteem can be sparked by several different things. These can include:
- Poor academic performance. When your teen is watching their peers succeed in school while they struggle, it can lead to feelings of being inferior or less intelligent than others.
- Environmental factors. Teens usually want to fit in. So when their family is different socioeconomically or structurally, they might feel they’ll never be accepted.
- Interpersonal struggles. When a teen has difficulty with communication skills, they may find it hard to make friends. This can be a source of distress and loss of confidence.
- Negative thought patterns. If a teen gets stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, like “nobody wants to hang out with me,” then their attitude can lead to that becoming reality.
- Negative body image. Teens can become very focused on their physical body image and appearance, which can lead to becoming overly critical of themselves.
A teen with low self-esteem may be struggling quietly, but there are some signs you should watch out for. Isolating behaviors like preferring to spend time alone, negative tone and attitude when talking about others, negative self-talk, constant apologizing, and disordered eating habits are common signs of a teen with low self-esteem. When you pick up on these signs, then you can offer help.
Dangers of Low Self-Esteem
It might not seem like a big deal, but teens who struggle with low self-esteem are more likely to seek validation in unhealthy ways. Because teens with low self-esteem tend to prioritize approval from others over their personal happiness, they may engage in dangerous behaviors to seek that outside approval. This can create a dangerous cycle of feeling worse about him or herself and feeling unworthy of help.
How You Can Help
Connect Regularly and be a Thoughtful Listener
When it comes to time with your teen, the grind of work and running a household can mean it’s easy to be lax with interactions. But teens want to know that they rank highly in your busy life, even if they don’t always act like it. It’s important to look for opportunities throughout your busy day and week to connect with your teenager, as that sends the message that they mean a lot to you. Even just striking up a conversation about a subject they’re interested in and being an active listener will reinforce that you care, building their self-worth.
Don’t Expect Perfection
You probably want the very best for your teen, and that means pushing them to work towards their goals. But try not to expect perfection out of your teen, as that just sets them up for failure. Instead, praise your teen for the effort made and the accomplishments they achieved through those efforts.
Give Them Responsibilities
Help raise your teen’s confidence by providing more opportunities to be self-sufficient and contributing members of the household. Giving them age-appropriate responsibilities, like helping prepare family dinners, cleaning around the house, or babysitting a younger sibling can help teens feel more independent and useful. Each finished project helps build self-confidence, which raises self-esteem.
Be Positive and Encouraging
Pay attention to how you speak to your teen, other family members, and even yourself. Teens soak up parental words and behaviors. If you’re overly critical, it sends the message that the teen is just not good enough. This can foster the teen’s own negative self-talk. Instead, try being positive and encouraging, to not only your teen but yourself if you partake in negative self-talk as well. When you need to criticize, criticize the behavior and not the person.
If a teen with low self-esteem continues to exhibit signs regardless of the efforts by parents, it may be beneficial to get help from a mental health practitioner. A therapist can aid in identifying the root causes of low self-esteem and help the teen end their negative thought cycle.
At Equity Associates, we are here to get your teen the help they need. Our therapy services are highly personalized for one’s unique needs and with our usage of telemental health, those seeking treatment can do so in the comfort of their home. We’re based in Ridgway, Colorado but can help those anywhere in the state. No matter what, we’re always here to support those who need us.
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