How low self-esteem can affect your teenager


Are you concerned about your teenager's self-esteem? Does your child seem to undervalue themselves? Teenagers with low self-esteem have more negative thoughts about themselves and may not understand their own value. It is important to understand how low self-esteem can affect your teenager as it may influence them in ways that can not only damage their emotional health, but also can put them at risk for various unhealthy behaviors.

How can low self-esteem affect your teenager's behavior?

We know from research that teenagers with low self-esteem are more likely to engage in a variety of behaviors that can be destructive and even dangerous. Low self-esteem can lead to your child failing to protect him or her self in the way they should. For example, teens with low self-esteem are more likely to engage in sexual activity earlier, and/or experiment with alcohol and drugs.

Additionally, low self-esteem can cause teens to behave badly in relationships. When teens feel bad about themselves they often treat those close to them badly, especially family members. In turn, they are usually treated badly in return which can lead to a greater decrease in self-esteem. Families with healthy and affirming relationships can have the opposite effect. Positive relationships and mutual respect among family members will increase self-esteem in all members. Teenagers who have high self-esteem often develop the following characteristics:

  • Healthy independence and maturity
  • Work hard and take pride in their accomplishments and achievements
  • Handle frustration and work to deal with it to the best of their ability
  • Open to trying new things and taking on challenges
  • Help others when possible

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

While we can't usually know what our child is thinking, there are several signs that our teenager may be suffering from low self-esteem including:

  • Avoiding trying new things or refusing to take on new challenges or opportunities
  • Expressing that they feel unloved and unwanted
  • Talking about how no one likes them
  • Having difficulty making friends
  • Fear of failure or fear of being embarrassed
  • Low levels of motivation and interest in life
  • Rejects compliments, not from being polite but from genuine disbelief he or she deserves a compliment
  • Negative talk of comparison of themselves to others

About: George Daniels is a professional counselor and coach who specializes in leadership development and training in New York City.

Click here for a list of therapists in your area for low self-esteem.

Children and Teenagers Self Esteem