Five Ways to Help Teens Build a Sense of Self-Worth

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Teens are experiencing increased levels of anxiety and perfectionism. Encouraging them to develop their strengths and see beyond themselves can help boost their self-esteem.

No one wants to hang out with me. I’m a failure at school. All my other friends seem happy. What’s wrong with me?

These kinds of negative thoughts are becoming more common in our homes and schools. Teens are experiencing increased anxiety, and studies indicate that college students in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States are becoming more perfectionistic over time, measuring themselves against unrealistic standards.

Why is this happening? We can’t say for sure—but we do know there are steps teens can take to improve their mental health.

2018 study of early adolescents suggests that self-concept (your perception of self) plays a central role in emotional well-being. According to the study, a supportive classroom environment and positive social relationships also affect teen well-being—but the impact is indirect. Positive self-concept seems to be the key variable in the well-being equation. If a student feels good about herself, then she may be more likely to connect with others and benefit from the supports provided at school.

So, how can we influence how students think about themselves? This may feel like a very tall order; yet there is a lot of research out there that provides some clues for supporting the teens in your life. Here are five ways to help tweens and teens move toward a more positive self-concept.

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