How Parents Help Teens Build Self-Esteem

What is Teen Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is the value teens place on their self-worth. Adolescents need to develop a healthy sense of self-love. They often ask themselves how they measure up compared to others. The crux of the matter is what they value such as their grades, the number of friends they have, their appearance, their kindness to others, their talents and interests.

The parents’ role is to help their teens develop a set of values to make this self-assessment.


Two Parenting Steps to Help Teens Develop Values

Step One
The first step for helping to build your teen’s self-worth is to clarify for yourself the values you want to impart.

Step Two
The second step is to set clear expectations for standards you want your teen to meet.

Only when you are clear about your own values can you can determine how high to set the bar for each individual teen based on their stage of development and capabilities.


Questions Parents Ask Themselves About Values They Want to Impart to their Teenagers

1. Questions about School Work

“How high a priority is my child’s education? “
“What does it mean to Try Your Best?”
“How capable is my child of organizing their own homework assignments, getting tasks in on time, getting high grades?”

2. Questions about Friendships

“Have I discussed with my child what real friendship consists of?”
“Is it more important to me for my child to have a few friends or a wide range of acquaintances?”
“What is the difference between Facebook or other social media friends and intimate friends?
“What traits do I want my child strive for? Kindness? Compassion? Generosity? Empathy? Popularity?”

3. Questions about Appearance

“How important to me is a dress code, the use of make-up, having popular fashions?”
“How important to me is a healthy weight, athleticism, good hygiene?”
“What outward standard do I set for myself as an example? How important is that to me?”

4. Questions about Personal Interests
“What activities do I think are important such as athletics, creative endeavors, social events?
“How well do I know my child’s favorite interests and do I want to encourage them?

How Do I Dialogue with My Teen About Values?

Once you have decided what values you wish to impart, they can be shared by example and by open dialogue.

Talking Tips for Value Exploration

1.The best way to talk to a teen is by opening a subject and then listening, listening, listening. The common parenting mistake is to launch into one’s own agenda before hearing all the teen has to say.

2.To help your teen explore their values a parent can share what is important to herself and then elicit her teens’s opinions on the matter. It’s best not to try and reach ready conclusions but to keep opening the exploration by reaching for more information, details, and examples.

3.The more interested you actually are in your teen’s points of view, the more your teen will open up with their thoughts and feelings.

4.In this way, before you know it, you and your teen have the kind of relationship where values are explored. Then your child can come to you when his or her self-esteem is wobbly and you can reopen the discussion of what is really important in your view and in your teen’s view.


This is an ongoing parent-child partnership that builds a close bond.


Click here for further discussions about parents and teens:

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