Loving Teens with Low Self-Worth

There are some core beliefs that begin the cycle of low self-worth. Typically, these debilitating beliefs stem from experiences in early childhood, such as trauma or simply living among dysfunctional family relationships. These core beliefs are:

  • I am bad.
  • unworthy.
  • unlovable.
  • unacceptable.


Both teens and adults hold onto these beliefs without ever really knowing it. And yet the effects of this dysfunctional thought system are seen in almost every aspect of life. Resulting in poor grades, little money, few relationships, jobs that don’t reflect the value of their skills, etc.

Low Self-Worth


However, with teens, there is a greater opportunity to curtail that downward spiraling thinking. And turn those thoughts and beliefs into more loving, more self-affirming, and more accepting. This may require the assistance of mental health treatment like Paradigm Treatment.


As a caregiver or parent, you have the opportunity to do this with your child.  Of course, one obvious way to do this is to look for the good in your child. Instead of seeing the A he should have gotten, praise him on the B that he did get. Instead of seeing the marks that your daughter got on her term paper, praise her for researching and completing the paper in the first place. The emphasis on what he or she is doing well can help those positive behaviors grow. Although it might be apparent that praising your child can significantly support his or her positive sense of self, it’s easy to get caught up in the tasks of the day. For some parents, it’s easy to forget that relationships come first. And with that, seeing what your child did right instead of what he or she didn’t do can have significant impact on how she feels about her life.

Give Praise

One teen living in the mid-west recently admitted that he felt embarrassed whenever his mother praised him. He would respond with, “Oh, come on,” or “Awww, stop it.” Yet, he also admitted that there were times at school when he felt less than and not accepted among his peer group. It was those moments when he recalled the praise his mother gave him. Although when she was praising him, he didn’t really receive it well. In some way, he took it in enough to remember them at other points in his life. Praising your child can indeed have a significant impact.

Model Behavior

Of course, another way to assist with your child’s sense of self-worth is to transform your own. If you suffer from low self-worth and find yourself having thoughts of little self-acceptance that are not self-affirming, it’s no wonder your child experiences this too.  Now, it’s odd to think that your thoughts have an effect on your child, especially if you’re not expressing your thoughts of low self-worth outwardly, but they do.  Psychological wounds can pass from one generation to the next. Such as patterns of addiction, co-dependency, powerlessness, early pregnancy, abuse, and so on. One way that these get passed down from one family to the next generation is through the thoughts we hold in the mind. Furthermore, it’s not only the thoughts that are held in the mind, but also those that we perceive as being true.


Therefore, in addition to praising your child and transforming your own sense of self-worth, the therapeutic tool called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can facilitate the transformation of dysfunctional beliefs and thoughts that affect behavior and poor decision-making. Certain mental health professionals specialize in this form of therapy. If you were to seek one out for your teen, transforming your own thought patterns with CBT can incredibly healing for both of you.