5 Ways To Support Teens Struggling With Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is associated with well-being and overall mental health. Self-esteem impacts how a teen continues to develop their identity, how they interact and connect in their relationships, the decisions they make, and their overall motivation level. Low self-esteem can contribute to a continual cycle of decisions, actions or behaviors that reinforce negative perceptions and critical thoughts.

Research has demonstrated that teens struggling with low-self esteem is a strong predictor of depression. Low self-esteem can be an underlying symptom of mental health struggles such as anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression etc. Some common signs of a teen struggling with low self-esteem may look like: relationship problems, isolating, self-destructive behaviors, an abundance of negative self-talk, unable to manage frustrations, pronounced fear of failure, inability to accept compliments, constantly seeking approval, continual negative perceptions or beliefs, premature sexual activity, use of drugs or alcohol to manage depression or anxiety. Additionally, predictors of low self-esteem may include chronic medical conditions, loneliness, parental criticism or neglect, bullying, disruptive life events (ex divorce or moving). Overall, self-esteem impacts our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that we have about ourselves. It takes time shifting and challenging these internal and deeply rooted beliefs. However, there are strategies you can do to help support your teen, remember, it takes time. 

5 Strategies: 

  1. Be Available: While your teen may not want to talk to you, communicating to them that you are there for them if they change their mind can make a pretty big difference. Knowing that you are in their corner and a part of their support system can go a long way. If your teen does disclose something to you, active listening is important. Demonstrate this by asking questions and listening rather than offering advice right away.
  2. Encourage your teen to find balance: Research has shown continually shown that diet and exercise are two big factors in influencing mental health. 
  3. Set a Positive Example for Your Teen: No matter how distant your teen may be, parents are essential role models. Be intentional about how you talk about yourself or others, and model confidence when you can. 
  4. Help your teen set goals: Focus and celebrate the journey your teen is engaging in as they are trying to reach their goals. Break down goals into smaller ones and over a shorter period of time. When they reach any goals, celebrate, and be proud of their accomplishment. 
  5. Let your teen know you are proud of them. Remember to focus on not only that you are proud of them for what they have accomplished, but who they are as a person. 

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