Positive self-esteem is when a teen knows that he or she is loved, cared for, and considered worthwhile. Self-esteem is understanding that others think well of us. Teenagers need to feel that their friends, teachers, and parents respect and love them. There are some things that parents can do help teens develop healthy self-esteem:

Avoid negativity. Focus on what your teenager has done right. It is okay to correct your teen when he or she is wrong, but do so in a gentle manner, and accompany your critique with praise for some other activity that he or she is doing well. Make sure you recognize the good while you are helping to manage the bad.

Nobody’s perfect. Focus on improvement rather than on perfection. Let your teen know that you notice when he or she makes improvements in his or her activities and behaviors. Focus on the journey rather than on what you wish was the end product.

Encourage achievement. Help your teenager set and achieve goals. They should be challenging goals but also goals that your teen can accomplish. Being able to overcome challenges and reach goals can give your teen a good sense of accomplishment and worth.

Your teen is not you. Understand that your teen may want different things than you. You may want your teenager to be a doctor, but he or she may want to be a journalist. Understand that your teen may have different goals in life. Try to support your teenager in his or her decisions. As long as your teen is not engaging in risky, damaging or illegal behavior, try to be supportive and encouraging.

Listen. Invite your teen to share his or her ideas and opinions. Listen respectfully, and encourage critical thinking. Be a model of civil discussion and teach your teen how to disagree without arguing.

Encourage exercise. Physical activity helps increase one’s self-esteem. Encourage your teen to get regular exercise, either through activities at home or by participating in organized sports.

Encourage extracurricular activities. Your teen does not need to be involved in everything, but one or two extra activities can really help improve self-esteem. They give your teen something to improve on and accomplish. Make sure that you attend recitals, exhibitions, and sporting events that your teen participates in to show your support.

Watch Boyfriends

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Connect With Us is a comprehensive source for teens and their parents, teachers and friends. The site contains tips, advice from experts, and informative articles on healthy relationships and a healthy you.

“Boyfriends should be required viewing in every high school in America. The stories--told by young people themselves--are educational, sobering, and pack a powerful punch.”

– Bill Albert, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

“Producer Sujata Dand approaches her participants with artful openness and without judgment--each has her story to tell; each has learned lessons from which we can all benefit.”

– Dr. Susan Sugerman, MD, MPH, Girls to Women Health and Wellness.

The project is funded in part by the Harold Simmons Foundation and other generous donors from our community.