Children with healthy self-esteem are confident, in control and capable of making positive, responsible choices in life. Your children will have better relationships all around and find it easier to bounce back from setbacks.

Your children’s struggles with self-esteem usually begin during puberty when the body undergoes various physical and emotional changes. Teens care about how others see them, and at the same time, they try to figure out who they are and where they fit in. Feelings of insecurity are common.

Expectations from peers plus unrealistic messages and images from the media do not make things easier or clearer. It’s little wonder that one’s self-esteem can go on a downward spiral. If left unchecked, low self-esteem can lead young people to make poor decisions on sex.

Teens can use a little help to boost their self-esteem. Here are some ways you can help:

Make a List of Positives

Mother teaching her daughter to count

Teens who are constantly criticised by parents and teachers will have damaged self-esteem. They will start to blame themselves for every little action. Help your teens to focus on their strengths instead of highlighting their weaknesses. Tell your teens three things you like about them, be it a characteristic or an achievement. Then encourage them to write down three things they like about themselves. Keep the list within reach so they can revisit or update it with new achievements. Doing this often enough will help them see how the positives can outweigh the negatives.

Related: Praise, Encouragement and Rewards

Recognise What Cannot Be Changed

Young boy playing with his food, faced turned to the camera

When your children see themselves lacking the qualities of people they admire, they will languish in low self-esteem. Encourage them to like themselves and to be proud of their own unique qualities. By helping them accept who they are, you will help them see themselves in a positive light.

Related: Building Resilience in Your Child

Find an Identity

Five young child taking a group photo happily

Your children may feel unsure because they are trying to figure out their own identities as well as how they may fit into a group. You can help them in their search for an identity. Encourage them to know their own likes and dislikes. Encourage them to express their own opinions. They should also discover new interests. Tell them they don’t have to follow the crowd to be popular.

Related: Loving and Accepting Yourself

Aim Not for Perfection but Excellence

A mother helping her son and daughter with homework

While it’s good to aim high, goals should be set within realistic reach. When goals are set too high, teens feel let down when they are unable to achieve them. So instead of aiming for perfection, encourage your children to excel in things they like doing.

Related: Raising Kids with Healthy Minds

Learn from Mistakes

A young fgirl smiling straight into the camera

It’s only human for one to make mistakes or face disappointments. Tell your children not to be overly critical of themselves, or to let other people put them down. Motivate them to believe in their own abilities. What’s more important is to learn and grow from the experience and do better the next time.

The Value of Your Children

Mother with two young daughters kissing her cheek at a park

Make your children feel valued and loved. Be generous with praise and encouragement. Nothing will make them feel more special than how you accept them.

It may take some effort to help your children develop good self-esteem but once you are able to do it, it will stay with them for a long time.

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  1. Lyness, D. (2015, Apr). How Can I Improve My Self-Esteem? [Website].
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  2. Lyness, D. (2015, Jul). Body Image and Self-Esteem [Website].
    Retrieved from