For many young people, low self-esteem comes with the territory. They don’t want to be thought of as children anymore, but they know they’re not adults. They lack the knowledge, skills, judgment, experience, resources, authority, confidence and maturity that may come later in life. And more…

  • Maybe they can’t afford the clothes the cool kids wear – I WON’T BE POPULAR.
  • Maybe they lag behind in reading and basic learning skills – I’M NOT SMART
  • Maybe they were born into a poor family – I’M NOT WORTHY
  • Maybe they’re small in stature – I WON’T BE PICKED FOR THE TEAM
  • Maybe they weren’t taught good social skills – I WON’T FIT IN
  • Maybe they’re slow to develop physically – I’M NOT ATTRACTIVE
  • Maybe they’re susceptible to acne – I’M UGLY
  • Maybe they’ve made mistakes – I’M A BAD PERSON, I’M INADEQUATE

When you were a teen did you ever experience any of these negative thoughts? I know I did. Low self-esteem can make them feel unhappy and insecure, which can make them vulnerable to peer pressure, which can lead them to make bad choices.

What adults can do to help…

  • Talk to them on an adult level. Don’t call them names or judge them as if there was something wrong with them.
  • Treat them with respect and fairness. Don’t infringe on their basic rights as human beings.
  • Don’t just hear them, listen to understand what they’re trying to say.
  • Instead of arguing, engage in dialogue.
  • Resolve conflicts together creatively.
  • When they deserve it, tell them what you liked about what they did.
  • Affirm their strengths and potential, based on actions you’ve observed.
  • Pass on wisdom and life skills.
  • Ask them questions that help them think through their own problems.
  • They’ll make mistakes, so help them learn the lesson rather than blaming or shaming them.

Was there an adult in your life who made you feel valued and helped you grow stronger as a person?

You can be that person to your own adolescent child.

More truth-telling about teen self-esteem…

More about this in Chapter 5 of my new book: How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain.

You can grow the bond with your child through better listening. Download the FREE ebook, Listening to Understand.