Full of milestones and transitions, the teenage years can be challenging for both children and their parents. You may have noticed that your teen struggles with low self-esteem, a common but difficult issue. By identifying some of the main sources of low self-esteem in teenagers, you can help your child gain a stronger sense of self. 

The following are some of the most common causes of low-self esteem and what you can do to help your teenager through this phase. 


Bullies may be a prominent part of your child’s middle or high school experience, and bullying can certainly take a hit on their self-esteem. The ever-present role of social media in your child’s life can also play a role, because many bullies hide behind a screen. Even simple messages can harm your child and make them question their self worth.

Fortunately, you can help your child cope with bullying by providing a supportive environment at home. Encourage your teen to be open with you about their bullying experiences and reassure them that what the bully is saying is not a reflection on them. This approach can build their self-esteem and help them see the bully in a realistic light. It’s also important to involve authority figures at school when appropriate, while avoiding being overbearing. 

Social media

Studies show that about half of teens use social networks daily, and frequent use is often unhealthy for self-esteem. Experts have linked social media to issues such as depression and anxiety in teens as well. Social media creates a constant environment for your teen to compare themselves to others. And they may not realize that they’re comparing their daily life with someone else’s highlight reel. You can help your teen cope with the effects of social media by limiting their use and being open with them about how these networks can harm their self-esteem.

Poor sense of belonging

Your teen is developing their interests and passions during these years, and this experience can often be isolating. This is especially true for teens who have interests that aren’t in line with mainstream teen culture. Encourage your child to join activities that match their passions, such as art club, theater, or a hiking group. They’ll instantly feel an increased sense of belonging when they’re surrounded by like-minded people, likely boosting their self-esteem.

Insecurity about appearance

The teenage years are often associated with braces, acne, and growth spurts, which make most teens feel self-conscious about their appearance. Again, a supportive home environment can help your teen move through this difficult phase. Be open with them about how these changes are normal. However, you can also support your teen by considering their requests for aesthetic changes. This might include experimenting with their fashion sense, switching their glasses for contacts, and even undergoing procedures such as skin tag removal. By encouraging body positivity while supporting your teen’s desire to make healthy changes, you can help them through this awkward time. 

Academic difficulties

Because school is a significant part of your child’s life, academic challenges can harm a teen’s self-esteem. If your child is having difficulty in school, remind them that they have nothing to be embarrassed about and that school doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You can help them get up to speed by hiring a tutor or encouraging them to talk to their teachers. Sometimes a little extra support is all a teen needs to succeed in school. 

Remember that while low self-esteem is common in teenagers, it’s important to identify when your child is going through more serious mental health issues. Encourage your child to be open with you about how they’re feeling, and talk to their doctor if they’re showing symptoms of anxiety, depression, an eating disorder or other mental health issues. If the doctor recommends treatment, look into what teen rehab Los Angeles experts, or those in your location, trust. Taking that step for your teen may help significantly.