What is Self-Esteem?

Everyone is familiar with the topic of self-esteem. However, what exactly is self-esteem? Self-esteem is an overall assessment of your worthiness, and it can be expressed positively or negatively. That assessment of worthiness can define your thoughts and feelings. Other synonyms that you may have heard for self-esteem are self-importance, self-respect and self-love. Overall, self-esteem is part of our personality. It consists of two elements: self-knowledge and self-awareness. These elements capture the individual’s perceptions of their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, attitudes, and values. Self-knowledge and self-awareness begin at birth and continue to develop with experience. It especially plays a critical role in the adolescent phase of one’s life.

The Adolescent Phase and Self-Esteem

Self-esteem plays a critical role in the adolescent phase of one’s life. It is especially related to the adolescent’s mental health and life goals. Adolescents’ self-esteem is largely influenced by their parents and how interested their parents are in them. Parents should help their children by making them feel secure and comfortable to communicate their difficulties and reciprocate the same efforts by giving sincere answers. The fundamental “tools” a parent can give their adolescent are love, trust, competent answers and advice. These tools help build an adolescent’s self-esteem.

Adolescents may face difficulties in setting boundaries and may worry about how people perceive them. Some egocentrism plays a factor in why adolescents believe their behaviour is as interesting to others as it is to them. The “imaginary audience” is a term that can be used, especially with adolescents, that defines the idea that other people are observing and evaluating their behaviour constantly. The imaginary audience can induce shyness and make some adolescents react negatively toward other people’s opinions.

Hence, parents play a critical role in their adolescents’ self-esteem. With an open form of communication and trust, adolescents can go to their parents, express these thoughts and have them reassured. Self-esteem is primarily formed by the family and will determine the adolescent’s performance at school and how accepting they are of themselves and other people.

Improving Self-Esteem

Is it possible to improve self-esteem? Yes, it is. Self-esteem is affected by the choices and actions we make every day. Implementing new strategies that include new choices and actions in your daily routine can improve your self-esteem. For instance, comparing yourself to others. When we compare ourselves to others, it is mostly to people who excel in the areas they value, not necessarily what you may value or deem important. Instead, compare yourself to yourself by acknowledging your progress. The acknowledgement can bring on a sense of success, consequently improving your self-esteem. Another strategy that can be applied to help build self-esteem is surrounding yourself with healthy and positive people. Surround yourself with people who support you and your endeavours; it is difficult to maintain good self-esteem when people are trying to tear it down. Therefore, stopping comparing yourself to others and surrounding yourself with positive and healthy people are two strategies, of many, that can help improve self-esteem.


Minev, M., Petrova, B., Mineva, K., Petkova, M., & Strebkova, R. (2018). Self-esteem in adolescents. Trakia Journal of Sciences16(2), 114-118. http://tru.uni-sz.bg/tsj/N2,%20Vol.16,%202018/M.Minev.pdf

Maertz, K. (n.d.). Strategies to Build Healthy Self-Esteem. Mental Health Centre. https://www.mcgill.ca/counselling/files/counselling/self-esteem_helpful_hints_0.pdf

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