Jenna Fash, MS, LCPC
Self-esteem, or how you feel about yourself, will be challenged during the teenage years. Despite the obstacles of this time period, there is great potential for healthy self-esteem development. Psychologist, Erik Erikson, theorized that there are developmental stages we all face throughout different periods of our life. He states that the teenage developmental period is marked by an evaluation of one’s identity and ultimately a decision will be made about who you are to become as a person. This is no easy task set forth for teenagers to accomplish!
In your pursuit for identity development and self-esteem building, consider the following helpful strategies in getting you started on your journey:
(1) Manage your inner critic: pay attention to how you talk to yourself!
Are you kind to yourself? Do you beat yourself up unfairly? Are you your own worst enemy? Try to be kind to yourself and remember that you are growing and changing and trying to figure out who you are! This is not any easy journey and you need encouragement not discouragement. Learn to speak kinder and fairer to yourself. As you learn to find a healthy voice take more opportunities to share your thoughts and feelings, this will help to raise your self-esteem as you begin to feel more assertive. When you struggle with negative self-talk it is also difficult to take in the kind words of other people. Try to practice accepting compliments when you receive them and try to give them more as well.
(2) Focus on your successes: how often do you take the opportunity to praise yourself?
Do you spend so much time thinking about your imperfections that you forget to notice the things that are going well? Everyone excels at something different. Focus on your strengths and what you are good at, be careful with comparisons! Once you have identified what you are good at, take time to build those skills and qualities. If you are having trouble figuring out what you are good at, experiment with new things until you find it! Discovery of your own unique skills and attributes, will increase your self-esteem.
(3) Meet your need to belong (in a healthy way): being a part of a group is very important!
Your peers and friends are an influential part of your life. Take stock in who you spend most of your time with, are they the best influence for you? Do they bring out the best in you? Not only does it increase self-esteem to feel a sense of belonging, it increases self-esteem when the people you spend time with bring out the best in you. Surround yourself with people you can have fun with, you will feel less pressure in these relationships and be able to relax more.
(4) Make a contribution: doing things for others has been shown to raise self-esteem.
Find some time to volunteer or help a classmate. It does not take something grand to ‘give back’ all gestures go a long way. This will naturally help you to build a healthy self-concept.