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Self-esteem

Self-esteem

To better understand

A person’s self-esteem depends on how they see themselves, on their opinion of themselves. It’s the value they place on themselves, but above all, it’s their ability to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Self-esteem develops over the course of different life experiences. And people with high self-esteem are better able to cope with stressful situations because they have confidence in themselves and in their ability to overcome challenges and ask for help when needed.

 

Having a realistic and positive self-image, while still having limits and boundaries, contributes to good mental health. Adolescence is a time when teenagers are forging their identity—the foundation for the adult they will become. So, it’s an important time for building and reinforcing self-esteem. Without a solid foundation, your teen’s self-esteem will waver with each and every event and encounter. As a parent, you have an important role to play!

Portrait of teens in Québec

Students with a high level of parental support are proportionately more likely to have self-esteem than those with low or moderate parental support (21% with high self-esteem vs. 13% with lower self-esteem).

 

To better support

Communication

  • Focus on efforts rather than results.
  • Turn your compliments into questions in order to stimulate your teen’s positive internal monologue. For example, are you happy with the grade you got on your test? What things did you do well? What could you do better?

Supervision/Guidance

  • Set clear rules and expectations that set your teen up for success at home and at school (logical consequences rather than punishments, expectations rather than criticism, etc.).
  • Adopt a conflict management approach that’s based on openness to the other person’s point of view, empathy, and expressing emotions.

Support

  • Encourage your teen to:
    • try new things to improve their self-awareness and face their fears;
    • become independent (encourage them to try, allow them to be less than perfect at tasks, etc.)
    • set goals and put in the effort needed to achieve them (realistic goals, milestones, completing a project, etc.)
  • When your teen is faced with change or struggles, recommend possible alternatives. This will help them to feel less stressed.

At home

  • Try to form a positive relationship with your teen by praising their strengths and accomplishments, by encouraging them when they’re struggling, by listening to them, respecting them and accepting their mistakes.
  • Your teen is their own person who is going to make their own choices—choices that may be different from yours. Learn to appreciate them for the unique person they are.

Tips and tricks

  • You are your teen’s most important role model!
    • Make sure your behaviours are consistent with the messages you’re sending; in other words, practice what you preach.
    • Show them how you overcome your own challenges to help them develop tools they can use later in life.
  • Your teen needs to learn how to get along in a group and in society. Your family is the best place to teach them how to interact and cooperate with others.

In brief

  • Not only does high self-esteem provide a solid foundation for positive mental health, it also prevents many behavioural and learning problems.
  • It’s through relationships with their parents, friends, teachers, and other significant adults that teens come to realize their own worth and develop their self-esteem.
  • To develop high self-esteem, a teenager needs to experience regular wins but also make mistakes on a regular basis. They also need to feel like they’re allowed to mess up and view their missteps as learning opportunities.
  • You’re the best person to help your teen develop, maintain and improve their self-esteem. Believe in them and help them get to know themselves so they can learn to appreciate themselves. You can do this by praising their strengths, while also helping them to recognize their faults and keep their ego in check!

Resources and practical tools

1. For support:

Do you have concerns about your teen’s development or behaviour? Do not hesitate to reach out to a support worker or a healthcare professional:

Info-Santé/Info-Social 811, 24/7 service

Community organizations: family centre, youth centre, etc.

Some community organizations offer support programs for parents of teenagers. Call your local organization for information.

School staff members are also good allies

2. To learn more:

Fondation Jeunes en Tête – family toolkit

ADAP-T (French only)

DUCLOS, LAPORTE, et ROSS (2002) L’estime de soi des adolescents, Éditions de l’Hôpital Sainte-Justine, La collection de l’Hôpital Sainte- Justine pour les parents, 96 pages (French only)

Latest updates: october 2022

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