Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Teen Health

Font Size

How Can I Improve My Self-Esteem?

Experts offer tips that enable teenagers to boost their self-esteem.

WebMD Feature

Looking for ways to improve your self-esteem? You're not alone! It's normal to have doubts about yourself during adolescence.

Look what happened to "Lauren" (not her real name) when she dressed for PE the first day of school. As she tied her tennis shoes, she noticed she had on two different colored socks -- one pink and one white. She was mortified! What would the other students think when they saw her?

Recommended Related to Teens

Common Sleep Disorders in Teens

Sleep disorders happen in every age group -- infants to teens to the elderly. They can make you feel exhausted when you need to be alert. Have you ever fallen asleep in class and the more you tried to stay awake, the sleepier you felt? Suddenly, something startled you (like your teacher's voice!) and you woke up. You felt groggy and embarrassed, wondering what you missed while you slept. Luke (not his real name) had a hard time staying awake in his classes. He thought it was because math and...

Read the Common Sleep Disorders in Teens article > >

Lauren quickly took the socks off and stuffed them in the left pocket of her gym shirt. She hated attention of any type and hoped no one would notice. Yet when she walked into the gym and sat down, a boy who was always obnoxious stood up, pointed to Lauren, and said, "Hey, girl. Why is your gym shirt so lopsided?"

Lauren looked down. The stuffed socks in her pocket made her look very busty -- on her left side only. With tears running down her face, she stared at the floor until the teacher excused the class to run laps.

While Lauren normally had good self-esteem, the way she handled this embarrassing situation is typical of many teens, who may feel insecure in a large group or among people they don't know well.

What Is Self-Esteem?

According to Nathaniel Branden, PhD, noted author and expert on the subject, "self-esteem is the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness."

Basically, having healthy self-esteem means thinking as highly of yourself as you think of your friends and peers. Many people have become so used to negative feedback that we are more aware of our weaknesses than our strengths. Often, we cannot enjoy our successes -- no matter how large or small they might be -- because we think of ourselves as "failures."

Why Is Self-Esteem Important?

Healthy self-esteem plays a role in almost everything you do. Teens with high self-esteem have better relationships with peers and adults, feel happier about their accomplishments, and find it easier to deal with disappointments and failures. They are more likely to ask for help and support from family and friends. They're also more likely to do well in school, setting reasonable goals and accomplishing them.

As Branden notes, "Positive self-esteem is the immune system of the spirit, helping an individual face life problems and bounce back from adversity." So we can conclude that having high self-esteem is vital during the turmoil of your teenage years.

We all have a mental image of who we are, what we're good at, and what our strengths and weaknesses might be. This self-image plays a role in developing our self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is based on your ability to assess yourself accurately, while still being able to accept and value yourself unconditionally.

Today on WebMD

unhappy teen couple
Article
mini cupcakes
fitSlideshow
 
teen couple
ARTICLE
Teenage Couple standing in a fairground laughing
Article
 
Sugary drinks
fitSlideshow
teen wearing toning shoes
fitSlideshow
 
young woman texting
Article
teen boy holding a condom
ARTICLE
 
Teen girls eating ice cream
fitQUIZ
teen sleeping
fitARTICLE
 
couple kissing
SLIDESHOW
Taylor Swift
fitSLIDESHOW