Is Self Esteem Your Trouble Teen’s Invisible Issue?

Troubled Teen Self EsteemPerhaps the most talked about issue about the issues of a difficult teenager is the effects of poor self esteem.  Self esteem is also perhaps the most misunderstood subject when trying to diagnose the problems of a trouble teen.  So understanding what self esteem is and what you can do to help reinforce their feelings of self worth can go a long way towards changing your trouble teen into a healthy, confident adult.

Diagnosing Poor Self Esteem

You start diagnosing poor self esteem in your troubled teen starts by examining their behavior both around others and when alone.  Poor self esteem isn’t just a lack of confidence, though that is a strong part of what self esteem is, it’s also in how they view themselves and how they feel others see them.  There are ways of discovering if poor self esteem is the root of the problems with your difficult teenager.

Listen and Watch for Cues

Listen to what they say and express their feelings, but also you must watch what they do as well.  Remember that your troubled teen is not an emotionally mature adult.  They are not going to be able to express all of what they are feeling by what they say.  So you have to keep an eye on their activities, their interaction with friends and even a look at their own hobbies and interests to understand if poor self esteem is really the problem.

Ask Probing Questions

In addition to asking difficult teenager questions, ask the teachers at their school, the leaders of their social activities such as in sports, church or other groups and the parents of the friends they hang out with to get a better picture of their lives as a whole.  You will probably find out what most parents do, that your troubled teen acts differently around them as they do you.  This is not unusual, but understanding their behavior out of your sight helps you zero in on poor self esteem being a problem.

Along with the advice of professionals, if you discover that your difficult teenage does have substantial self esteem issues, you can now start to address them.  One of the most difficult aspects in raising the self esteem of a troubled teen is that it’s going to be paced on their time, not yours.  There is no magic wand or miracle drug that is going to infuse your troubled teen with self esteem.  This is going to be an ongoing process, so treat it as such and take the appropriate steps one at a time.

Talk with Empathy

Tell your difficult teenager that you understand the difficulties that they are going through.  Their reaction will probably be to yell or scream back, perhaps even pretend to not listen. But you want them to know that you are on their side and to help win this battle.


Building self esteem is not applauding loudly when the do something you like, although it can’t hurt but it’s helping them find things that they can take pride in, whether it’s building models, participating in school events and the like. Over time, building their sense of self esteem is your ultimate goal.

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