How to Help Your Teen Boost Body Image, Self-Esteem

By: Guest Blogger, Lauren Bailey

Building self-esteem isn’t as easy as patting your child on the back and telling her how great she is. The following are some concrete tips that parents can implement to develop a strong sense of self-worth in their teenagers. Get tips >

1. Encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits. For teens as well as adults, staying active and eating healthy form the basis of a sound body and mind. Studies have indicated that exercise changes the brain’s chemistry and, in doing so, helps ward off low-self esteem and clinical depression. What’s more, physical activity will help strengthen your teen’s relationship with her body, which is especially important considering that teens with low-self esteem, particularly girls, can also have poor body image, which can lead to serious problems like depression and eating disorders.

Get more tips about improving your teen’s body image in our March webinar >

2. Limit time spent using the Internet and watching television. According to Dr. David Walsh’s Say Yes to No Parent Workbook, kids are exposed to 5,000 marketing messages everyday. A primary source of low-self esteem in teens is heavy exposure to the media, in which unrealistic body types and lifestyles are glorified. One study also found that children who spend too much time on the Internet are at higher risk of depression. Limit how much time your child spends in front of a screen, and engage them in alternatives like outdoor activities, reading, and simple family time like regular dinners at the table.

Learn more about limiting screen time >

3. Praise your children appropriately. Over the last few years, the media has highlighted stories about the dangers of over-inflating your teen’s sense of self-esteem. However, the problem isn’t necessarily that teens have too much self-esteem. Rather, it may be that they have developed self-esteem through unrealistic standards and praise. The best way to build a realistic idea of self-worth is to praise your teens based on what they’ve accomplished. Try out Dr Walsh’s four tips for helpful praise:
  • Praise the effort more than the ability. Encouragement is better than praise.
  • Make praise specific not generic.
  • Praise has to be sincere.
  • Praise should be intermittent, not overdone.

4. Be open and talk to your children about their concerns. When parenting teens, it’s important to strike a balance between being an authority figure and being a person your child can relate to. According to research, parents are most effective when they adopt the loving but firm style of parenting, also known as authoritative parenting. Dr. Walsh characterizes this parenting style as one with firm rules, stable leadership, and mutual respect.

Learn more about Dr. Walsh’s Say Yes To No parent education program >

You want your child to feel that you are approachable so that they can talk to you about their concerns. Bullying, peer pressure, sex, drugs, and alcohol, are all very serious problems that teens will inevitably encounter. Maintaining the type of relationship with your child where she can talk to you about her problems openly is the key to developing strong self-esteem.

Raising children, and particularly teens, is never easy. You will inevitably be confronted with conflicts and challenges. Know that erratic teen behavior is normal and being attentive to your child during the adolescent years will help your teen grow into an independent and confident adult.

Lauren Bailey regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments via email.

1. EdNews Parent, Researcher explores exercise as cure for teen depression.

2. Dr. David Walsh, Say Yes To No Parent Workbook.

3. National Association of Social Workers, Adolescent Girls and Body Image.

4., Study: Obsessive Web Surfers Are More Depressed.

5. New York Magazine, How Not to Talk to Your Kids.

6. Image via Jamiesrabbits on Flick’r.

This is all information are very use ful thanks for sharing it.


Good piece, these are certainly issues that we parents worry about, it’s a tough world out there for children growing up bombarded with constant media telling them to look a certain way etc.

I’ve just wrote a short blog post about my young daughter and her future body and self esteem issues, pls check it out if you have similar worries to myself


Remind yourself and your kids that everyone is a work in progress. Self-confidence is like a muscle that develops with practice and experience.

One of the most important jobs for parents is to help your child successfully through life’s challenges and successes, help them feel good about themselves along the way, and learn to accept mistakes.

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