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Gaining Healthy Self-esteem During Adolescence


Gaining Healthy Self-esteem During Adolescence


Adolescence can be a very fun time in your life. It can also be a period when you’re confronted with a variety of challenges and issues, ranging from changing physical attributes to being accepted in peer groups. Adults may perceive your issues as usual, and knowing how to face them can preoccupy you, as your self-esteem and related emotions become challenged.

Positive self-esteem can increase your chances of reaching your goals and facing obstacles as they occur.  Young people who have healthy self-esteem can accept themselves, interact well with others, and better resolve their own issues. Thus, they can perform better in school and in social areas of life. If you are suffering from poor self-esteem, know that you can improve it with parental support and professional assistance.


Self-esteem: What is it?

Self-esteem is a general reflection of a person’s self-respect or self-image. It can affect your principles/views/beliefs and the appropriate emotional responses to them. It “is the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness,” says expert and author Nathaniel Branden, PhD.  Thus, it is a determining factor of one’s emotional health and development.

There are two main aspects that influence self-esteem – these are self-confidence and self-respect. Self-confidence refers to “the sense of right” in choosing or deciding your goals and actions that determines your competence in achieving and succeeding. It gives you faith in yourself and it contributes to living without doubts or fears. Consequently, it can drive you and guide you in your decisions. Self-respect pertains to the “principles and values that allow (you) to make moral choices. It is (your) personal worth based on the standards we rate (yourselves) by. It is how you judge yourself.

There are usually two developmental stages when self-esteem can dip during adolescence, says Carl E. Pickhardt, Ph.D. in a Psychology Today post. The first may likely happen “at the outset in early adolescence (ages 9-13) when the young person’s separation from childhood creates a loss of contentment with being defined and treated any longer as just a child.” The second drop usually “occurs during the end of adolescence, trial independence (ages 18-23), when the young person is confronted with the daunting reality of independence and feels overwhelmed and diminished by the future shock.”

Though self-esteem is related to confidence and self-respect, it doesn’t always follow that you may never doubt yourself or you will always succeed in your endeavors when you possess them.  Fundamentally, if you have healthy self-esteem, you think highly of yourself and you are confident that your family and friends appreciate you as a person. You tend to enjoy your successes more and tend to have a hopeful attitude despite adversities.


The Importance of Self-esteem

Self-esteem plays a significant role in the life of teenagers, particularly when they start to experience “growing pains” or changes that come with adolescence. There can be changes in your body that can confuse or worry you. There may be a new level of social awareness that may dominate your thoughts as you develop cognitively. This can be a time for changes and adjustments alike. This can also be a time for self-discovery, developing your identity and fortifying your independence.

For these reasons, it can impact many aspects of your life and so much of what you do. You are likely to enjoy more satisfying relationships with family, peers and mentors, if you have healthy self-esteem. You may also find it easier to face your challenges and your defeats when you have strong self-esteem. You can grow with optimism and possibly perform and achieve better in school.

Expert Branden once said, “Positive self-esteem is the immune system of the spirit, helping people face life’s problems and bounce back from adversity.”  This is critical when you are transitioning as a teenager. The ways you face these challenges can provide a “reflection” as to how you will behave as an adult.


What Does Healthy and Poor Self-esteem Look Like?

How’s your self-esteem, confidence and self-respect or your overall opinion of yourself? Do you feel confident that you have what it takes to overcome difficulties? Do you feel good about yourself? Or are you worried that you aren’t good enough and that you will always fail, despite your best effort?

It isn’t always easy to tell if you have healthy self-esteem or not. According to therapist Tina Gilbertson, some telltale signs that you have healthy self-esteem are:

  • Your ability to share yourself without feeling vulnerable
  • Actively finding ways to reach your goals
  • Appreciating honesty
  • Embracing responsibility
  • Nurturing your health
  • Fondness for children
  • Favoring self-improvement
  • Ability to stay positive
  • Supporting others

If you have healthy self-esteem, you are also likely to be confident. Reach Out shares some signs that may indicate a sagging self-confidence, and possibly poor self-esteem, including:

  • awkwardness in accepting praise
  • insecure body language, such as walking with head down and reluctance to make eye contact
  • negativity about others and avoidance of social situations
  • not joining in on activities
  • holding back or not expressing self in class
  • being shy or timid
  • a willingness to succumb to peer influence
  • an expectation of failure, or to not try as hard when things become a challenge.

There are factors that can influence or shape your self-esteem. Mayo Clinic cites these as, “your thoughts and perceptions, how other people react to you, experiences at home, school, work and in the community.”


Building Your Self-Esteem

Healthy self-esteem can be considered a gift to you and those around you; and strengthening it is one of the most positive steps that you can do for yourself. Accept the support of your parents and the rest of the family. Start by being aware of what you can do to build your self-esteem, such as having a positive attitude and not setting impossible standards for yourself. Work on what you can change – embrace a healthy lifestyle, smile more, choose your friends well, and learn to “accept what you cannot change” – things like body type, ethnicity, or eye color.

There are times when poor self-esteem can be more deeply rooted, so that overcoming it can be usually difficult. If self-criticizing has become a habit and it is contributing to your emotional pain, seek the support of your parents or teachers. Do not allow the past to determine your destiny. Surround yourself with positive people who genuinely love and care for you, those who can provide positive feedback.

Do not forget that there is help from a qualified counselor independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks. A trained behavioral health professional can help you gain self-esteem by pinpointing negative behaviors and helping you develop positive ones that can help improve your self-image and self-esteem. Counselors or therapist can similarly help your parents with concerns, so they can better assist you in gaining self-esteem.

Ask your parents to contact Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks to schedule your first appointment and accompany you to your first session!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express


Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: (910) 716-8006 (Fastest way to schedule)
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Carolina Counseling Services - Cameron, NC
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Cameron, NC 28326

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Fayetteville, NC 28311

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