Supporting Your Teen's Self Esteem

Self-esteem is critical for teenagers as they face societal pressures and begin to form their own identities. As a parent, you can play a key role in supporting your teen's self-esteem. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Open the Lines of Communication and Be Present

One way to show your teen that you care about them and support their development is to talk with them about their hobbies and interests. Showing a genuine interest in the things they enjoy will help boost their self-esteem and make them feel validated. You might even ask if it's something you can learn together or get involved with in some way - it can be a great bonding experience to learn new things together or let your teen teach you about something they’re good at.

It can also be reassuring for teens when parents support them by attending performances or activities, such as sports events or club meetings, which demonstrate that their achievements are being noticed and celebrated. You may have to miss some events, and that’s alright; just have a plan in place to let your child know you’re supporting them from behind the scenes by leaving them notes, sending them an encouraging text before their big night, or sending a loved one in your place.

Be Their Biggest Cheerleader

Sometimes a lack of self-esteem prevents kids from participating in activities, whether it’s at school or in the community at large. Encouraging your teen to explore their interests and develop their skills and talents is an important part of their growth and development. As a parent, you can offer support by encouraging them to get involved in activities at school or in the community, where they can work on building their self-esteem. 

Not sure how to get a teen out of their shell? If you’re paying attention to what they’re doing in their free time, you can help them enroll in an activity that complements their current interests. Is your teen into reading? Maybe they’d like to volunteer as a library aid. Does your teen love watching sports? Find a program where they can play, or mentor younger kids just getting into athletic programs.

Be your teen’s biggest cheerleader and let them know you’re rooting for them no matter what their interests are. You can also model good self-esteem by trying new activities yourself! Join a cooking class, learn how to code, or volunteer at the animal shelter to walk dogs. 

Not only will these activities result in personal growth, but they may also encourage the development of creativity and other skills that can be beneficial later on in life for your teen (and yourself!).

Help Your Teen Set Realistic Goals

As a parent, helping your teenager set and reach realistic goals is an important element for providing support and creating a positive outlook. Setting small, achievable goals will help them build momentum towards their larger aspirations and increase their confidence as they succeed in smaller tasks. It’s also important to recognize and celebrate big and small victories along the way as you work towards bigger goals. Finding small ways such as rewards or special privileges can show your teen how proud you are of their efforts while also encouraging their continued success. Through patience, guidance, and recognition, you can help your teenagers aim high while having realistic expectations that will enable them to reach their full potential.

Remember That It Takes a Village

Struggling to get along as a family doesn't mean you are unsuccessful or abnormal; it just means you need guidance and support. The teenage years are a complicated time for families, even when circumstances are ideal.

Corner Canyon Counseling recommends seeking help from a family counselor to learn how to overcome issues, foster harmony, and create a healthier environment for everyone. Family counseling works by providing tools and strategies that help individual family members learn how to communicate with each other more effectively, as well as how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. Having the opportunity to discuss difficult 'real life' situations under the guidance of an experienced professional can ultimately lead to improved relationships that bring peace and happiness into the home.

It can sometimes feel like you’re navigating parenthood alone; look at resources in your community for help, such as the school counselor. They can refer you to a family counselor if need be, or let you know about programs at school that may help teach your teen some coping skills for whatever they’re dealing with. You could even look into external counselors who are specialised in working with teens, such as Rachel Cohen of Wisemind Counseling, who will help prioritize mental health and nurture self-esteem and any issues surrounding this. 

Some of the Challenges Teens Face Today

Being a teenager today is a difficult experience, probably much different than when you were a teen yourself. However, many of the problems you faced when growing up are still relevant to today’s teens.


One of the problems among teens is issues related to addiction in their families. When loved ones are struggling with alcohol or substance abuse addiction, it affects their entire family. The Solida Foundation shares a good article on understanding the ripple effect that addiction can have, which you can find HERE


Other widespread difficulties faced by teenagers include matters related to body image, which is something many of us can relate to. Support your teen by providing them with information about nutrition and exercise, and helping them learn how to care for themselves.


Years ago, if you were bullied at school, you could usually leave it behind at the end of the day and head home for some relief. These days, cyber-bullying makes it possible for the harassment to follow a teen everywhere they go if they have a cell phone. It can be hard to escape the onslaught of negativity online, especially since the perpetrators can hide behind a screen.


Related to social media exposure, teens today are faced with unrealistic expectations. They see filtered images and highlight reels online all day, giving them a warped view of reality. Their minds also get addicted to the dopamine hits that every “like” gives them online; when they don’t get those reactions in real life it can be extremely disappointing.

No matter what is bothering your teen, it can result in long-term negative effects, such as stress-induced TMJ, anxiety, and depression. All of these things can make it hard for teens to reconnect with themselves and remain mentally healthy, as well as find a balance between autonomy and independence from other people.

It Starts With You

As parents and caregivers, it's important to set a good example when teaching teenagers how to develop healthy self-esteem. Practicing self-care is important in demonstrating that we too need time to nurture ourselves and understand our individual needs. 

Additionally, adults must practice positive self-talk so that teens can observe and internalize the importance of self-love. This may involve celebrating successes, picking yourself up after failure or setbacks - no matter how small - talking kindly with others and reminding everyone around you of their worth and potential. 

Ultimately, providing your teenager with solid examples of self-care routines and positive self-talk is one of the best gifts you can give them for long-term health and happiness.

No comments