10 Signs Of Low Self Esteem In Teenagers

Adolescence is a time of life when a person’s self esteem is known to fluctuate significantly. It is estimated that up to a half of adolescents will struggle with low self esteem, many of these occurrences during the early teen years.

In previous posts I have discussed the key factors that influence teenager’s self esteem and how adults can help build healthy self esteem in young people.

But how do you know if a teenager has a problem with low self esteem? It is not like they are just going to come out and tell you!

So in this post I thought I would describe some common indicators that suggest a teenager may have issues with their self esteem.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, teens do not have to exhibit all of these signs to have low self esteem. These are merely a collection of signs that I and others have found to be commonly displayed by teens who have issues related to low self worth.

1. Walking with their head down

One of the most observable signs of low self esteem is when a teenager walks everywhere with their head pointed downwards and their chin stuck to the top of their chest. This is physical expression of shame and embarrassment.  Teens who with low self esteem often feel like they want to hide and get through public situations unnoticed.

2. Doesn’t make eye contact when talking

Teens who feel that they are not worth much find it very hard to make eye contact with others when communicating. They avoid making a connection because they assume others have the same negative view of them as they do.

3. Uses negative “I am” statements

The language teens use will often convey what it is they believe, this is especially true of how they speak about themselves. Teenagers who commonly refer to themselves as hopeless or worthless are expressing a belief about who they are. Phrases like “l am useless”, “I always get it wrong”, “I could never do that” or “the world would be better of without me” are examples of someone expressing negative beliefs about who they are.

4. Often involved in teasing, name calling, or gossiping about others

Teenagers who feel bad about themselves will often seek to be negative about others. This is usually a defense mechanism.  Often teens will be most critical of others who exhibit similar qualities that they don’t like about themselves. Other times it is a simple matter of making themselves feel or look better by making others look worse.

5. Engages in inappropriate physical contact or avoids physical contact

There is nothing more personal than our physical bodies.  Teens who feel worthless and long for affirmation may seek to find it physically.  The desire for physical touch from others is fueled by a deep sense of longing for acceptance and connectedness.  However feelings of worthlessness can also manifest in a genuine fear of physical contact from others.  Often teens who do not like to be touched have strong feelings of disgust or shame about their body and / or what it may represent.

6. Uses gestures that are dramatic and out of context

When teens feel like they are not valuable or worthwhile they can crave attention. One way of getting attention is act in such a way so that people notice.  Teens who act in a manner that is out of context are often those who have not been given the care or attention they required when they were younger.

7. Excessive bragging about themselves, their achievements, or appearance

One way of fighting deep feelings of being worthless is by trying to convince ourselves and others that we are not. Teenagers who are constantly talking about how good they are, or how good they look are trying to convince  other people and, most importantly, themselves that they are valuable.  There is a constant search by some teens to find positive messages from external sources that will drown out the negative internal ones that are constantly playing.

8. Speaks too loudly and aggressive in tone

When a teenager feels worthless they can believe that everyone else thinks they are insignificant too.  In order to compensate for these feelings of insignificance teens will try to verbally dominate communication as a means of seeking attention and recognition.  Unfortunately this will often result in increased levels of personal rejection from others.

9. Avoids social situations

If a teenager feels they are unlikeable they will avoid situations which reinforce that belief.  Teens who have few friends or weak relational bonds with peers commonly have quite low self esteem.  Peer relationships are an important component of how teens develop self worth. Teenagers who have few friends, or find it hard to make friends will feel less confident about who they are, this in turn results in them being less confident and willing to build friendships. The cycle continues.

10. Apologises constantly

Apologising a lot is usually associated with feeling guilty. if a teen believes they get things wrong all the time or don’t measure up to expectations they will feel guilty for failing. It creates a cycle. The guiltier they feel, the worse they feel about themselves, and the worse they feel about themselves, the guiltier they feel. Constant apologizing comes from the excessive feelings of guilt a teen may feel.

Image by the8rgrl

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Showing 11 comments
  • david emmons

    Wow Chris, I love what you are doing with this blog. This
    story really touches me. My daughter is a young girl determined to change the
    trajectory of low self esteem for girls worldwide. We live in Vermont, and Abbiee, my daughter just
    released her debut single titled “Mirror Girl”. ….. I’d sincerely
    like to know what you think.

    ………Mirror Girl
    is a song about healing. It’s about what you see when you look at yourself in a
    slab of reflective glass. I used to see someone who was sub-par – someone who
    wasn’t awesome or talented or beautiful. But I had the privilege of making a
    discovery – making a 180 degree turn. Now I know the truth, and I want every
    other girl

    in the world to know the same thing. I want them to know how
    brilliant they really are. How mind-blowing they really are.

    ~David Emmons, (Dad)


  • No one

    I’m a teenage girl, I try to hide my low self esteem, which means I am acting just like a normal teenager but in reality I feel like sh*t.
    It’s so hard,and it’s getting badder and badder.
    The most hard thing in this that the ones who are causing this are mostly my family and other people that don’t people to hurt me, but it hurts.
    I don’t ask for help.. why? because I don’t believe I’m worth it, and for me it’s hard to even ask my mom for a dollar, because I feel like I’m a bother and I don’t deserve it.
    They are many teenagers hiding those things, which means you may never guess or think that this kid is very sad and lonely
    But if you do see someone with low self esteem
    please help them
    It’s just getting worse

    • No one

      mean* instead of people
      Another thing about people with low self esteem, they tend to check things they write like that 100 times..

      • Joseph

        You discover your talents. Find out what you are good at and just follow through it. Take pride in your work and take pride in yourself too. Everyone is good at something, so discover the things at which you excel, and then focus on your talents. Give yourself permission to take pride in them. Find something you enjoy and cultivate a talent to go with your interest. This will not only help boost your confidence but will also let people know you are not what they think you are. I suggest you to read this free report that can help you a lot http://www.selfconfidence.somee.com/

        And remember: You are the boss and you can be as you want to be.

  • Yadda Yadda Yadda

    #1 and #2 are utter bullshit. I do both of those, have done them for years and years, and I have more self-confidence/self-esteem than anyone I know. The difference is I don’t give a shit what other people think of me, and I see no reason to hold my head up high like some dumbass optimist. Nor do I make eye contact if I don’t want to look at people; it has nothing to do with my self-esteem. Same reason why I wear sunglasses everywhere I go.

  • Joseph

    thank you for this helpful article but there are a lot of people that want to imporve their Self-esteem, I suggest to take this free report to Boost Your Confidence and Develop Your Personal Power http://www.selfconfidence.somee.com/

  • Eric

    These are all really great points. These problems seem to go hand in hand with anxiety/depression. I found an article related to this if anyone is interested:


  • Unknown

    I often just start crying for small small things and i know that i don’t need to cry but i just feel frustated and have a let down from very small things. I myself don,t even know why i cry but i just do

    • swati

      just see what are the reasons and if somebody say something to u and u feel frustrated with that just give answer to them and show them that u r the best .because if this things happen u feel depressed.so just be cool and try to avoid this little things.because people have a habit to say something so just don”t bother on each and everything and enjoy your life .

  • Linda Searcy

    Why does my 15 year old shit himself??? THEN tries to hide his soiled garments/bedding.

  • Nancy Harlow

    I work with teens to help teach them leadership and personal growth, and I have noticed that most kids intuitively know what is right and what they SHOULD do, but they all seem to be waiting for the adults to tell them to do it or give them permission.

    I think a lot of kids doubt themselves, and they end up going with the flow. If they just had a type of mentor, most kids would create way better results! https://www.preparemykid.com

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