Self-esteem is simply how you feel about yourself and how you judge your worth. This evaluation has a profound impact on the choices you make since it determines, to a great extent, what you consider yourself capable and worthy of doing. Do you view yourself as strong, smart, and valuable? If so, you probably take risks, speak out and stand up for what you believe in. Do you view yourself as ugly, weak, or worthless? If so, you most likely are fearful, stay in the shadows, and question every decision you make. How you view yourself usually determines how you act around others and how you see yourself as a role in society. Self-esteem, whether it is negative or positive, can be damaging or uplifting, respectively. Teenage low self-esteem stems from teens who feel poorly about themselves and judge themselves to be inferior to others and are at risk of not fulfilling their true potential in life. They may not take the initiative to set and pursue personal goals; they may not put any effort into their education or careers; they may accept poor treatment from family, friends, and romantic partners and all of these things could potentially ruin their future.

What causes low self-esteem?

Teenage Girl with low self esteem

 There are many factors that can contribute to a teen having low self-esteem. Here are some of the factors that may contribute to teen self-esteem problems:

  • Appearance (self-image)-It may seem shallow, but most teenagers are concerned to some degree about their appearance. This can be difficult to overcome because in some cases it can be difficult to change one’s appearance. Overweight teens often feel bad about themselves, as do teens that think that there is some sort of irregularity with the way they look.
  • Peers–Teenagers may have peers that make fun of them or put them down. If a teen feels like an outcast, it can have an effect on his or her self-esteem.
  • Parents–Sometimes parents or other authority figures put teens down and cause self-esteem problems. Parents, coaches, and teachers who always criticize can make a teenager feel as though he or she never does anything right, and is never valued. Such constant criticism may cause him or her to feel unloved.
  • Unrealistic expectations–We all want to live up to our potential. But sometimes teenagers feel pressured by unrealistic expectations. Parents and teachers may expect too much of them. Often, a teen can develop low self-esteem because he or she is not “living up” to the expectations that one sets for oneself. A teenager can, at some times, be his or her own hardest critic.

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Helping your teen overcome low self-esteem:

 You want to help your teenager overcome low self-esteem. This means that you may need to make changes yourself. Look at your behavior, and determine if there is something you can do differently. Teens need to be corrected, but are you always criticizing? Try to say at least one positive thing for each negative thing you say.

 If there is an appearance issue, encourage your teenager, if reasonable. If your teen is overweight, this can be done by exercising with him or her and encouraging him or her to lose weight for health reasons. Do not point to the appearance issue in such cases. Instead, focus on the health aspects of the change. If the appearance issue is something that can’t be changed, help your teen gain acceptance for it. This may require counseling, especially if the issue is of recent development, such as from an accident.

 You can also talk to your teenager about failure. Make sure that you don’t express excessive disappointment when your teen does not perform to your expectations. Instead, praise the effort and encourage him or her to work harder next time. Explain that mistakes should be viewed as chances to learn and grow, rather than a measure of one’s worth.

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