Teens With Low Self Esteem – What Can We as Parents Do?

When we recognize that our teens maybe having feelings of low self worth or other destructive issues with low self esteem there are many things we as parents or caregivers can do for our adolescents.

First, work with your teen to identify the reasons for any feelings of low self worth. Is it because they have a negative self-image? Is it because they are not excelling at school or sports? Are they feeling excluded from peer groups?

Identify specific areas where they are feeling deficient even if you don’t agree with their assessment. Listen carefully and don’t criticize their feelings. You need to acknowledge how important each of the concerns they express are to your teens. Being open as you listen carefully to their concerns and not judging them is the first step in solving any issues for teens with low self esteem.

Next, you and your teen need to recognize the reality of each situation. You both need to be realistic and identify which areas can and cannot be changed. For example, if your teenager is upset because he’s too short to play basketball, assess the situation carefully.

Does he have other skills that could be improved on to allow him to be competitive in basketball or should he be encouraged to change his passion to a different sport or maybe something entirely different where he would have a better chance of excelling.

Finding something where he could really excel at could give him a genuine boost to his self-esteem. Help your teen to be realistic about goals that aren’t within their reach based on unchangeable capabilities or physical limitations.

However, if your teenager feels she is not excelling in class, or not performing well in a sport and these are things well within her capabilities to develop then you can work with your teen to get the help required to facilitate her improvement in these areas.

For example, a teenager who is not excelling in class can get tutors or extra assistance to enhance her grades. Making these changes will go a long way toward building her self-esteem. First, help your teen identify what areas are realistic for her to improve upon and then work to set realistic short and long term goals for her development in these identified areas.

Finally, as you work with your teen on changing those things that can be improved, continually reinforce the positive and encourage your teenager to learn how to focus on developing his/her strengths while working to improve on the weaknesses.

A teen who is not the star quarterback they want to be, may be able to set short-term goals for improvement instead of focusing on a long-term, lofty or out of reach goal. Build on the understanding that each person has strengths and weaknesses. The main goal should be to focus on developing strengths and improving on weaknesses without getting bogged down in negativity.


The pressures to grow up fast and be an independent, well liked member of their peer group can lead teens to feelings of low self esteem. There are many dangers associated with these negative feelings and the consequences that may result. However, feelings of low self-esteem can be changed for the better with a little effort and positive thinking.

Encourage your teens to focus on their strengths. Help them understand that it’s okay to be less then perfect and help them create realistic, achievable personal goals. If there are traits that can be improved upon, help your teen if you can or get them the help they need to evoke a positive change.