Do you wonder if your teen is struggling with their self-esteem? You notice that they may be worried about what their peers think about them, the way they are presenting on social media, or an overall increase in nervousness. As a parent, you start to wonder if it’s anxiety they’re struggling with or struggles with their self-esteem. All of this makes sense!
There are many factors that can contribute to your teen struggling with their selfesteem.
Here are a few contributors to be aware of:
• Self-image and appearance – it is normal and common for teenagers to be concerned to some degree about their appearance.
• Peers and friends – I’m sure we all remember being teenagers and wanting approval or feeling as though we fit in.
• Parents – sometimes, unintentionally and intentionally, parents or authority figures can put teens down or make statements that teens perceive as criticism. High levels of criticism can lead to feeling unvalued or unloved.
• Unrealistic expectations – teens at times may have unrealistic expectations of themselves. Also, parents and teachers may expect too much from them as well.
• Disruptive life events – teens can be experiencing adjustments to parental divorce, moving schools, or loss of a family member.
• Chronic medical conditions – teen has struggled with a medical condition that caused long term isolation previously or currently.
• Social distancing – teens being forced to stay away from peers and family.
• Mirroring – as children grow up they learn how to think about themselves from how their parents or close relationships speak about themselves.
When teens struggle with low self-esteem, their mind begins to be clouded by critical thoughts, assumptions of the future, or guessing what others are thinking. This can lead to poor decision making. Bad choices or feelings or rejection are often followed by harsh self-judgement and persistent regrets. These nagging feelings of inadequacy and rejection can prevent your teen from learning from bad choices and mistakes. Then we follow in the continued cycle leading to increased anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Some warning signs that your teen might be struggling with low self-esteem are:
• Observe how your teen talks to others. They may refuse to make eye contact or look down when communicating with peers or other adults.
• You may hear your teen make statements like, “I could never be that good” or “I will definitely fail this test.” Negative statements about themselves or their capabilities.
• Notice if your teen engages in excessive bragging whether it’s about their appearance, academics, athletic abilities, or anything else. This can be a defensive mechanism to mask low self-esteem.
• Acknowledge if your teen is avoiding engaging with peers or isolating themselves by hiding out in the room all day.
• Your teen says, “I’m sorry” and apologizes constantly, even when it is likely inappropriate, or they have not done anything worthy of an apology.
You can help your teen overcome anxiety and depression symptoms causes by low self-esteem. Encourage your teen for their efforts instead of perfection. Teach your teenager how to use positive self-talk by utilizing it yourself in their presence and opening the discussion about the importance of it. Encourage them to try new things and help them set attainable goals. If you are noticing some of these steps are not enough for your teen, seek out support for your teen
from a professional. We are motivated to support your teen in improving their self-esteem!