Self-esteem means you really like yourself, both inside and out. It refers both to how you look and what you believe in. This is also called "positive" or "high" self-esteem.
Sometimes it's easy to like who you are. You feel great when you pass a test, score a winning touchdown, or tell a funny joke that everyone laughs at. But how do you feel about yourself when you just said something stupid or fumbled the football? You sometimes feel dumb or left out of the action.
You start wishing you were someone else or that you could change how you look. You think you aren't good in school, on the team, or part of the cool crowd. This is "negative" or "low" self-esteem.
Why is self-esteem important?
As a teen, you now have more responsibility to choose between right and wrong. Your parents are no longer constantly by your side. Positive self-esteem gives you the courage to be your own person, believe in your own values, and make the right decision when the pressure is on.
Your friends can put a lot of pressure on you. You want to be part of a crowd. The crowd may be the "cool" crowd, the "jock" crowd, the "computer" crowd, or the "brainy" crowd. Belonging to a crowd is a part of growing up – it helps you learn to be a friend and learn about the world around you.
It's okay to want to be liked by others, but not when it means giving in to pressure. Your friends are now making many of their own decisions, and their decisions may or may not be good for you.
It's never worth doing things that could hurt you or someone else. For instance, drinking alcohol or using other drugs, having sex before you are ready, joining a gang, or quitting school can all lead to trouble.
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How do you get it?
Be honest with yourself. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Don't beat yourself up over your weaknesses. Don't compare yourself to others. It's hard at times, but accept yourself.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Try to get the most out of your strengths and do your best, without demanding unrealistic results of yourself.
- Celebrate your achievements.
- Trust your own feelings.
- Take it one day at a time. Do your best each day.
It is not always going to be easy to stick to your values, but you will be happier if you do.
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Think for yourself!
Only you know what is best for you. When you value and respect yourself, it helps you avoid making a bad decision, which may affect the rest of your life.
If you need help, go to your parents, a favorite teacher, counselor, or trusted adult. They want to help you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness – it is a natural thing. You are never too old or too young to ask for help.
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More Questions & Answers
Is it easy to change your self-esteem?
No. It means taking some time to understand who you are – what you like, don't like, feel comfortable with, and what goals you have. This takes time and hard work. It's a lifelong process, but it's worth the effort!
Does self-esteem guarantee success?
Success on tests? Success playing sports? Success with friends? No, but if you keep trying and doing your best, you are a success. Remember, having positive self-esteem will help you to achieve what you want. But when you don't succeed, it helps to accept the situation and move on.
Does self-esteem mean being self-centered or stuck-up?
No. Kids who act this way usually are trying to pretend they are something they are not. In fact, they often have low self-esteem.
Can I help others feel good about themselves?
Yes. Don't put others down. Be patient with your friends and family when they fall short. We all make mistakes from time to time.
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Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Material from, "Teens & Self-Esteem," used by permission of Mental Health America.
For More Information:
Read a teen-written story, by Amrita Dixit, about embracing Self-Acceptance.