3 Tips for Teens to Boost their Self-Esteem

Photo of smiling teens facing the camera - one male African America, one female African American, and one female Hispanic. Photo could represent the good self esteem they feel since completing anxiety counseling with their online solution focused brief therapist in Illinois or Florida.

What does it mean to have healthy self-esteem?

Your teen may think it means they need to love the way they look; or feel great about accomplishing some big goal in their life.

While both factors can lead to feeling good about themselves, healthy self-esteem actually means they like and appreciate themselves – faults and all.

Good self-esteem can be the difference between a happy, resilient teen, able to face life’s challenges head on, and someone who suffers from depression, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed with life.

Anxiety Among Teens is Increasing 

Anxiety among teens is on the rise according to several studies and reports. Teens face a lot of challenges due to academic pressure, social media use, economic uncertainty, and changes in family dynamics, among other factors. All these stressors can affect a teen’s sense of self.

As parents, it can be especially tough to know how to help your teen through their struggles. Perhaps your once outgoing and confident teen is now insecure, anxious and indecisive. You wonder how you’re going to help pull them out of their negativity and into a more positive and empathetic view of themselves.

3 Tips for Boosting Your Teen’s Self-Esteem

While you can’t wave a magic wand and change things overnight, there are some things you can do to give your teen’s self-esteem a much-needed boost:

Face the REAL reality

Is your child someone who tends to generalize? By that I mean, do they make statements about themselves such as, “I’m an idiot”, or “I’m not pretty enough or smart enough?” The truth is, we can all find people who are smarter and more attractive than we are.

If your teen is going to work on their self-esteem, they need to first recognize that they often lie to themselves with these generalizations. The generalizations may sound convincing from your teen’s point of view, but they’re still lies.

To stay grounded in reality, have your teen make a list of their top 10 strengths and top 10 weaknesses. If they have a hard time coming up with strengths, have them think about what others have said about them – they’re a good listener, they’re thoughtful, they play soccer well, etc.

When they’re done making this list, they’ll see that there are plenty of things they’re good at. And some of the weaknesses may be things they can absolutely change over time and with some effort.

Facing reality doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some additional ways teens can get real with themselves.

Additional ways teens can get real with themselves:

  • Be honest

Have them start by being honest about their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They should avoid ignoring problems or pretending that everything is okay when it’s not. Facing reality means acknowledging both the good and the bad.

  • Stay present

Also, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future, encourage your teen to focus on the present moment. Paying attention to what’s happening around them and how they’re feeling right now will help them stay grounded.

  • Set realistic goals

Have them set goals that are achievable and realistic based on their abilities and circumstances. Break them down into smaller steps and create a plan to reach them. Recognizing their limitations and working within them is part of facing reality.

  • Take responsibility

Encourage your teen to take responsibility for their actions and choices. Instead of blaming others or making excuses, they need to own up to their mistakes and take steps to make things right. Understanding the consequences of their actions is critical.

  • Practice gratitude

Have them take time each day to appreciate the good things in their life. Practicing gratitude helps them focus on the positive aspects of reality and can improve their overall outlook.

Forget about perfection

Perfection doesn’t exist. Your teen may think all those Hollywood A-listers on the cover of magazines are the epitome of perfection, but even they are airbrushed, photoshopped and have a team of people following them around so that nothing is ever out of place.

Remind your teen to stop spending their energy trying to have the perfect face, body, grades, or dating relationship. None of that exists. Have them focus their energy on achieving attainable goals like being a good friend, doing their best in school, and enjoying activities and hobbies.

For teens looking to let go of perfectionism, here are some additional strategies.

Additional strategies for letting go of perfectionism:

  • Practice self- compassion

Remind your teen to treat themselves with kindness and understanding, especially when things don’t go as planned. It’s okay to make mistakes; everyone experiences setbacks from time to time.

  • Challenge negative thoughts

Have them notice when they’re being overly critical of themselves and challenge those negative thoughts. Also, ask them if their standards are realistic and if these standards are truly serving them. Replace negative self-talk with more positive and realistic statements.

  • Focus on effort, not outcome

Encourage them to shift their focus from the result to the effort they put into something. Also celebrate their hard work and progress, regardless of whether they achieve perfection. Recognize that growth and improvement are more important than perfection.

  • Embrace imperfection

Additionally, help them accept that perfection is unrealistic, and that imperfection is a natural part of being human. Encourage them to embrace their flaws and quirks as unique aspects of who they are. Imperfection is what makes them interesting and relatable to others.

  • Try new things

Have them step out of their comfort zone and try new activities or hobbies without worrying about being perfect at them. They should allow themselves to explore and learn without the pressure of mastering everything immediately.

Get to know the authentic self

We spend so much of our lives comparing ourselves to others that we really don’t take the time to get to know ourselves. Beyond strengths and weaknesses, who is your teen as a person? What makes them happy or excites them? Are there specific hobbies they enjoy? What kind of brother or sister are they?

The more they know about themselves, the greater the likelihood they’ll discover things they really like about themselves.

Getting to know their authentic self can be a rewarding journey. Here are some ways for teens to start.

Ways for teens to start finding their authentic self:

  • Self-reflection

Encourage them to take time to reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Journaling can be a helpful tool for exploring their inner thoughts and gaining insight into what matters most to them.

  • Explore interests

Have them try out different activities and hobbies to discover what they enjoy and what brings them fulfillment. Remind them to pay attention to the activities that make them feel engaged and excited, as they can provide clues about their authentic interests and passions.

  • Listen to the inner voice

Paying attention to their intuition and gut feelings are important. Our inner voice can provide valuable guidance and insight into true desires and values. Encourage them to trust themselves and listen to what their instincts are telling them.

  • Reflect on values

Additionally, have them think about the principles and beliefs that are important to them. Consider what values guide their decisions and actions. Reflecting on their values can help them understand what matters most to them and what they stand for.

  • Seek feedback

Remind them to ask trusted friends, family members, or mentors for feedback about their strengths, weaknesses, and qualities. Hearing how others perceive them can offer valuable insights into their authentic self and how they’re perceived by others.

Boosting self-esteem is important and necessary for teens as they navigate the challenges of adolescence. By implementing these three simple tips—facing the “real” reality, forgetting about perfection, and getting to know their authentic self—teens can gradually build a stronger sense of self-worth.

Remember, self-esteem is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, patience, and effort, but the rewards are limitless. With dedication and perseverance, every teen can develop a positive self-image and embrace their unique worthiness.

Begin Online Therapy for Kids and Teens with Anxiety in Illinois and now Florida!

If your child or teen is struggling with anxiety, there is hope! Anxiety is highly treatable and online anxiety treatment at Briefly Counseling can help.

Using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I help kids and teens reduce their anxiety and build resilience so they can become a happier, more confident version of themselves.

And kids love being able to receive counseling from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Studies have consistently proven that online therapy delivers equal results to in-office counseling.

As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing counseling for anxiety. To start your child’s counseling journey, call me at 224-236-2296 or email Helena@BrieflyCounseling.com to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.

Helena Madsen, MA, LCPC is the founder of Briefly Counseling. I specialize in providing online short-term anxiety treatment for kids and teens ages 7 – 18 as well as Christian counseling.

Whether you’re on the North Shore, in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Barrington, Libertyville, Glenview, or downstate Illinois, I can help.

And effective 2024, I am now licensed in Florida! For parents in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Destin, Crestview, Coral Gables, Weston, Parkland, Naples, Marco Island, and Pinecrest, I have immediate openings.

Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.