Self-Esteem in Teens

It is no secret that the teenage years are a tumultuous blend of hormones and emotions. Teens often find themselves struggling with their image of themselves, and poor self-esteem is a common adolescent ailment.

According to an article from Psychology Today, by Ellen McGrath, “Self-esteem at work,” “Maintaining self-esteem is a lifelong psychological process. Think of self-esteem as a mental muscle that must be developed and maintained through regular psychological workouts—or you will be vulnerable to depression and anxiety. It must be renegotiated at each stage of life and in each domain of experience. When we build up the self-esteem muscle deep inside us, we learn to like and respect who we are, no matter what is happening around us.”

“We program out minds to achieve what we desire,” Crystal Yaldo ’22 said. “It is like having a growth mindset. In order to believe positive things, you have to tell yourself positive things. What your mind thinks and believes is what will happen. Just like building muscle, you have to train yourself to be positive. In order to believe something positive, you have to tell it to yourself. When you think positively, the mind will help turn wishes into reality.”

Teenagers are very impressionable, and many teens have a negative view of themselves. They have not yet had the life experience to build up their self-esteem.

“Parents impact their children in multiple ways,” Christine Brown, counselor, said. “Actions speak louder than words. It does not matter if you say something if you do not follow up on it. Words can emotionally affect if a child behaves well or badly. A nurturing or hostile environment can really affect a child. If I could talk to myself as a teenager, I would say that ‘all the kids that you think are so important you probably will not even communicate with as an adult. The best advice that I can give to teenagers to improve their self-esteem is to get off of social media. Do not let your self-esteem be tied to something that is fake.”

When teenagers are worried about their peer’s opinions of them, it can be very detrimental to their self-esteem.

“Many people think that teenagers have self-esteem issues due to some belief that we think people care about the way that we look, but in reality, I believe that self-esteem is an issue because we wish to look a certain way and compare ourselves to adults,” Laith Basal ’21 said. “Most adults body shame their children, not on purpose, but they should understand that even small, seemingly innocent, comments can negatively affect teenager’s self-esteem detrimentally. Instead, they should praise any transformations their child has done, and try to stay away from comments that could be negative.”

A teenager’s self-esteem is influenced by all of their surroundings, including their friends, parents and school.

“The biggest positive impact on my self-esteem recently has been my friends,” Elijah Ott ’22 said. “They make me feel good about myself. Recently, my biggest negative impact on my self-esteem has been school. I have always struggled staying focused in school. Before this school year had started, I had told myself that I want nothing more than to give my all to my education, but due to the pandemic, it has been nearly impossible to stay focused.”