February is International Boost Your Self Esteem Day, and at Including You, we want everyone to believe in themselves! In her blog, our founder, Daisy Hampton, writes about self-esteem in kids and teens and how they can improve it. Read on!
First, let me say to anyone reading this: You are awesome, and you should feel good about yourself!!
Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. Studies show that most young children have high self-esteem, but that self-esteem may start to erode in some kids with the onset of the tween years. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with!
Having self-esteem is important, because it affects your relationships with other people and the way that you approach different situations in life.
People with self-esteem believe in themselves, are proud of what they do and feel liked and accepted by others. Those with low self-esteem often feel bad about themselves, are hard on themselves and think they are not good enough.
Why do some kids have low self-esteem? Experts cite lots of reasons, such as lack of support at home, being bullied, having toxic friendships, enduring stressful life events like divorce, having an ongoing medical issue, or other things. Social media doesn’t help either -- we may look at the carefully curated social media accounts of our peers and think their lives are so much better than ours, or we worry too much about the number of “likes” we get, or we get huge cases of FoMo.
But you know what? Poor self-esteem doesn’t have to stick. There are lots of things you can do to boost your self-esteem and begin to recognize what a great person you are! So let’s get started!
Here are a few tips to improve your self-esteem. Pick some that work for you!
Change that voice in your head! There’s a saying, “You need to be your own best friend.” And that’s true. Positive self-talk is a key to good self-esteem. Be kind to yourself. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do this”, or “I’ll never make friends”, start thinking, “I’m going to try to do this, and if it doesn’t work this time, I’ll keep trying” or “I am someone who will make a good friend, and so maybe today’s the day!”
Keep a journal, and each day, give yourself three compliments and write down three things that made you happy or grateful that day.
Engage in self-care - whatever that means to you. Do what you love. It could be exercising, starting a skincare routine, meditating, playing with your pet, cooking your favorite meal, talking a walk and listening to your favorite tunes, riding a bike, taking a bath, reading a book, watching funny cat videos - your options are endless and the choice is all yours!
Learn a new skill or hobby. Honing a new skill always makes us feel better--but give yourself time to learn it, and don’t be discouraged along the way! You may learn how to make an origami butterfly, hone a cool magic trick, master a new move on the skateboard, write poetry, or anything else that you enjoy.
Hang out with people who treat you well. You may want to hold onto a friend just because you’ve been buddies since elementary school or because you’re afraid you’ll be alone, but if they tear you down, make you feel bad about yourself, or try to encourage you to do things your gut tells you are wrong, that friendship is dragging your self-esteem down. You’re worthy of a friend who recognizes the special things about you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, let you be yourself and help you feel positive about reaching your goals. And of course -- you need to be that type of friend to others, too.
Think Positive. It sounds cliched, I know, but lots of times, we start obsessing about the one thing that went wrong that day, instead of thinking about what went well. Turn your mindset around and you will start feeling better about yourself, and your world.
Establish goals and stick to your plan. If certain areas of your life are bringing down your self-esteem, figure out why and identify these as “areas of opportunity”. Your journey to better self esteem may be to learn to study better, get more fit, manage your time better, or have a more organized room. Make a plan for how you can accomplish that goal, stick with it, and track your progress. Don’t focus on any setbacks. Instead, be proud of what you’ve done so far. Say to yourself, “I’ve created a calendar and study plan and I haven’t missed one remote class, I’ve improved my test scores and I don’t feel as overwhelmed about my schedule” or “I’ve been following my plan to exercise every day for 30 minutes. I feel stronger, and I know I can keep it up.”
Use Social Media for Good. Social media can be a downer, but it can also be a source for building self-esteem. Instead of following yet another account featuring photos altered to unattainable perfection, start following accounts that perk you up. Good accounts to follow may feature daily inspirational quotes that encourage you as you work to a new goal, TikTok lessons on how to make jewelry, create a hot chocolate bomb or draw a comic; body positive influencers, entrepreneurs that give you advice how to build your own empire, or activists who share your belief in a certain cause and help you feel part of that community of world changers.
Helping others helps you. When you do things that make a difference in the world, however big or small, your self-esteem will grow. A recent study of kids aged 11-14 found that those who were kind and helpful had higher self-esteem, and it grew if that kindness extended to those outside of their friends and family. So write letters to senior citizens in nursing homes, volunteer at an animal shelter, organize a food pantry drive, or hey, join Including You! You are always welcome here.
Remember, you are not stuck with low self-esteem, and you have LOTS of reasons to feel good about yourself. If you follow some of the tips above, I hope you will find it easier to recognize what makes you so amazing!
If you tried any of these tips out, or if you have other ideas for how to boost your self-esteem, we’d love to hear about them! Email me at Daisy@includingyou.org so we can share them!