Self-esteem is the term used to describe the way we feel about ourselves and how much we value or appreciate our own worth and importance. For example, a teen with healthy self-esteem can feel good about his/her character and qualities, take pride in his/her abilities, skills and accomplishments.

Self esteem is the result of comparing who you want to be and who you think you are.

  • When you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to pursue and attain your goals.
  • When you like yourself, you are more likely to believe other people will like you too.
  • If you believe you are capable of learning a new sport or skill you are more likely to try it.
  • The more you try new things the more skills you will learn.
  • The more you reach out to people, the better your chances of making friends becomes.

Remember that everyone experiences problems with self-esteem at certain times – especially teenagers who are still figuring out who they are and where they fit into the world. Your self-esteem is shaped by a number of factors including:

  • your environment (e.g. constant criticism from peers)
  • your body image
  • your expectations of yourself (e.g. downplaying your successes and accentuating your faults and failures)
  • your experiences (e.g. difficult events and family relationships)

It is important to realize that self-esteem is not etched in stone and it can change for the better! Self-esteem builds on itself- success nourishes your self-esteem, which motivates you to take on other goals or projects that in turn will increase your feeling of competence and personal pride. Self-esteem can help us get through difficult times and tackle obstacles.

Learning to set realistic goals and being forgiving of yourself and others can begin a process of improving your self-esteem. You can also try to:

  • remember that you are more than your appearance
  • identify your unique strengths and abilities and build on those
  • take care of your body, mind and spirit
  • avoid self-critical thoughts – counter them with positive thoughts
  • set realistic goals – plan an approach and then stick with the plan until you accomplish your goals
  • be generous with others – volunteer and make a difference
  • build a support system of people including family and friends

Remember that you can always call Kids Help Phone and talk to a professional counsellor if you have questions about self-esteem.

Last Reviewed September 2012 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team

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