Adolescence: Building Self-Worth & Esteem in Teen Girls

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Teenagers | 0 comments

Adolescence is a critical learning time for your teenage daughter. Her experiences will shape her character and values.  She will develop important skills such as empathy, cooperation, and decision-making.  She will learn effective ways to communicate, how to cope with difficult feelings and strategies for managing her time and money. But, perhaps the most important thing your teen daughter will learn is how to build and maintain her self-worth and self-esteem.  


As she starts to differentiate from members of the family, primarily her parents, she will begin to question herself and wonder about her own identity.  Throughout adolescence, she is also likely to question her self-worth and may encounter challenges to her self-esteem.   


For example, she is bound to encounter unrealistic standards of beauty that can stir up self-doubt. She may fall into the comparison trap with peers or on social media,  and begin to wonder if she is enough.  She may experience relationships that have a negative impact on her self-worth and self-esteem.  


A strong self-worth and high self-esteem can protect her from these potentially damaging forces.  


How do teens learn to strengthen their self-worth and self-esteem throughout adolescence? 


It begins with understanding the differences between the two.  Self-worth generally relates to a person’s belief in their value as a human.  Self-esteem relates to how a person thinks about their abilities and personality traits.  Both develop through life experiences, relationships, and feedback from others. Offering your daughter unconditional love, genuine encouragement, and meaningful support will strengthen her self-worth and self-esteem, as will modeling a healthy belief in yourself.  However, during adolescence, your teen also needs to develop a set of skills that will help her maintain her sense of worth and esteem. These are the skills I teach the teen girls I coach and which you can present to your daughter. 

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  1. Reframing failure.  There is valuable insight within every perceived failure. Look closely at what a failure reveals about your strengths, interests, and abilities.  Ask yourself how the experience can inform your next steps.  
  2. Focusing on your strengths. Pay attention to the qualities that make you unique, that drive your actions or support your accomplishments.  Think about how you can use your strengths to overcome challenges or make decisions.  
  3. Reflecting.  Dwelling on the past is unhelpful but reflecting on how past experiences have led to growth, wisdom, and positive change is enlightening and empowering. Be intentional about looking back to see how far you’ve come.
  4. Learning your boundaries and how to express them.  Put simply, boundaries are what is and is not OK with you.  Expressing your boundaries can feel scary but you can keep it simple, respectful, and direct by using statements like, “I feel… I need…This is what I will do if my boundary is crossed…”  
  5. Exploring new hobbies and interests. We learn a lot about ourselves through new experiences. Hidden talents and skills are often illuminated when we explore different activities.  We can also discover or affirm preferences.  
  6. Maintaining healthy relationships. Surround yourself with people who inspire, support, and care about your well-being.   
  7. Finding inspiration in comparisons. When you notice yourself comparing, ask yourself what it is about that person that I think is so great. Is it something I want for myself? Is it realistic? If yes, what steps can I take to work toward it?  
  8. Regularly practicing positive affirmations.  There is incredible power in affirmations. They work to rewire our brains and inspire optimism, motivation, and happiness. A morning affirmation can set the tone for your day.  
  9. Examining your beauty beliefs. Set your own standard of beauty.  Explore where real beauty comes from. Question the media.  Remember that outside appearances are only a fraction of beauty and they change with time.  Take care of your external appearance but remember that beauty comes mostly from the inner qualities that shine on the outside, the way we show up and how we treat others.   
  10.  Questioning your thoughts. Our thoughts don’t always tell us the truth so it’s important to get in the habit of asking yourself: Is that thought really true? How does it make me feel? If a thought triggers an unhelpful feeling or response, see if you can focus on a different and more helpful thought.   


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