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Why Self-Esteem is Critical for Teen Mental Health

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What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is defined as your subjective sense of overall personal worth or value. Having a healthy amount of self-esteem can benefit your mental well-being, your motivation, resilience, and more! Having too little or too much self-esteem can be problematic and manifest in various ways. While some of us might think that self-esteem operates on its own, there are many factors that contribute to it! 

What contributes to overall levels of self-esteem?

It is important to note that all of the different factors that impact self-esteem rely heavily on self-perception, otherwise known as a person’s view of themselves or of any of the mental or physical attributes that comprise of the self. If someone’s self perception is skewed, it may impact some or all of these elements. 

Is it good to have high self-esteem?

Some people think that having the maximum amount of self-esteem possible is ideal, but we are here to explain why that’s not true! The different levels of self-esteem important to know as too little or too much can cause complications. These three levels are defined as low, healthy, and excessive. 

What causes low self-esteem?

While self-esteem typically develops in childhood by a child’s environment and community, there are other factors that can cause a low level of self-esteem. This includes genetics, racism, discrimination, family dynamics, trauma, stress, comparison to others, physical illness, pain, and mental illness. 

How does low self-esteem manifest?

  • You may believe that others are better than you.
  • You may find expressing your needs difficult.
  • You may focus on your weaknesses.
  • You may frequently experience fear, self-doubt, and worry.
  • You may have a negative outlook on life and feel a lack of control.
  • You may have an intense fear of failure.
  • You may have trouble accepting positive feedback.
  • You may have trouble saying no and setting boundaries.
  • You may put other people’s needs before your own.
  • You may struggle with confidence.

What causes healthy self-esteem?

Healthy self-esteem is celebrating and knowing all of the identities that make up who you are! Individuals with healthy self-esteem can identify their strengths and be open to working on areas of opportunity. By being your true self, you allow others to do the same. 


Heart that says I love me

How does healthy self-esteem manifest?

  • You are vulnerable with those you love.
  • You are assertive, not aggressive.
  • You set healthy boundaries with others.
  • You seek feedback from people you trust.
  • You accept failure as a normal part of life.
  • You believe in your inherent worth, regardless of what others say or think.
  • You use your voice.
  • You stand up for others.
  • You know and accept both your strengths and your weaknesses.
  • You are not ashamed to ask for help.

What causes excessive self-esteem?

Parents or guardians who have children with low self-esteem may excessively praise them as a way to resolve the issue. Even as an adult, if those around you get a sense that you have low self-esteem, they may shower you with admiration and compliments as a way to boost your spirits. While this sounds like a good thing, it can backfire, leading to too much self-esteem.

How does excessive self-esteem manifest?

  • You tend to be arrogant.
  • You tend to feel a need to be superior to others.
  • You tend to feel Impulsive, reckless, or have attention-seeking behavior.
  • You tend to feel the need to always perform for others.
  • You have a sense of entitlement.
  • You tend to disregard rules,
  • You tend to have an inability to accept feedback, criticism, or failure.
  • You tend to manipulate others.

How can I improve my self-esteem?

Now that we know the three levels, here are some steps you can take to improve your self-esteem:

  1. Become more aware of negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  2. Challenge negative thinking patterns. 
  3. Use positive self-talk.
  4. Practice self-compassion and forgiveness.
  5. Prioritize self-care. 
  6. Reject perfectionism.
  7. Try not to compare yourself to others.
  8. Stay present by practicing mindfulness practices. 

Closing thoughts

Having positive self-esteem is critical for teens as it impacts their mental and emotional well-being. It helps them to have a more positive outlook on life and to better handle stress and challenges. However, building self-esteem can be a challenge and some teens may need extra support.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Your well-being is important and there are people who care and want to support you. If you are in need of resources, A Brighter Day has partnered with BetterHelp to provide access to free mental health treatment. Email us at to be connected to complementary resources. 

Text BRIGHTER to 741741 for immediate crisis support

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