We are all guilty of it: comparing ourselves to others. Am I as smart? Am I as strong? As pretty? As fast? As funny? As wealthy? As liked? As followed? For some, it’s easier to notice this behavior in ourselves and stop before it takes over our every thought. For others, particularly high school students, comparing and fitting in are top priorities on a daily basis. Because trends are always changing and students often compare themselves to unrealistic images and situations, this habit can have a negative effect on one’s self-esteem.
Self-Esteem Comes from Within
It’s important to keep in mind that self-esteem comes from within. It’s the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is a difficult story to tell for a high school student who is still in the process of really developing their identity on so many levels.
Acknowledge the Positive
The adults in a student’s life can help by being a voice of confidence. If you see a student doing something well, let them know. Acknowledging the positive provides a significant boost for someone struggling with self-esteem. Did they design a picture well? Did they choose a difficult song and perform it well? Did they write a particularly interesting story? Did they ask a really insightful question in class? Did they act kindly towards someone else? These comments can help students identify strengths and start to weave a positive story about themselves.
Ways to Help
Think Simple Now offers some good insight on ways to help our teens build their self-esteem. If you or someone you know needs a nudge in the direction of feeling more positive about themselves, consider some of the following suggestions:
- Complete something small that you know you’re good at to get the momentum and confidence going
- Write down some goals and cross them off as they’re complete, even if it’s as simple as a list of classes or homework for the day
- Do something that scares you-your confidence in yourself will soar afterwards
- Help others feel good about themselves, the result is two-fold
- Talk to a trusted friend or relative to gather genuine external compliments
- Stop comparing yourself to others and trust that who you are in the moment is the best person you can be
Caring Adults Taking Action
At New Hampton, we encourage all of our students to try something new. Perhaps they have undiscovered talents in the arts or in a new sport. Advisors pay close attention to their advisees, eager to acknowledge and recognize something done well. Building self-esteem takes effort from all sides, but mostly from the inside. Never miss a chance to tell someone what you think they’re especially good at. It could be an important beginning to a new chapter in their lives.