Nurturing Self-Worth: A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Teens and Young Adults

self esteem teenage girl

Parenting through the turbulent years of adolescence and young adulthood comes with a
multitude of concerns and uncertainties. While the typical worries may include issues suchas substance use, peer dynamics, breakups, and job-related stress, the overarching concern
that resonates with every parent is whether their child values themselves throughout these
challenging experiences.


The Core Concern: Self-Value in Teen and Young Adult Years


Amidst the myriad of potential challenges that teens and young adults face, one fundamental worry eclipses the others – the concern about whether our children value themselves. It goes beyond the surface-level worries of external factors and delves into the
heart of their emotional well-being and self-perception. Parents grapple with the question: How can we ensure that our children navigate the trials of growing up with a strong sense of self-worth? The recognition that parents contribute significantly to shaping their children’s beliefs about themselves is a profound realization. From the very first day of their lives, parents embark on the journey of “writing” on their children, leaving lasting imprints on their developing identities. This acknowledgment prompts a crucial self-reflection for parents – how have we contributed to shaping our child’s sense of self, and how can we actively nurture their self-worth? Let’s explore the building blocks of Self-Worth: including unconditional love and support, encouraging independence and decision-making, open communication, setting realistic expectations, modeling healthy self-worth, constructive feedback, and addressing negative self-talk.


Unconditional love and Support


Unconditional love serves as the cornerstone of a child’s sense of self-worth. Children who feel loved and accepted for who they are, rather than for their achievements or conformity to expectations, develop a solid foundation of self-worth. Parents play a pivotal role in creating an environment where their children feel unconditionally cherished.


Encouraging Independence and Decision-Making


Allowing teens and young adults to make decisions whenever possible, even if they lead to mistakes, fosters a sense of autonomy and self-reliance. Encouraging independence within a supportive framework helps them develop confidence in their abilities and decision-making skills.


Open Communication


Creating a space for open and honest communication is vital. Teens and young adults need to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of
judgment. Parental guidance provided through constructive dialogue helps shape a positive


Setting Realistic Expectations


Unrealistic expectations can contribute to feelings of inadequacy. Parents should set achievable goals and expectations that are based on child development and on knowing their unique children’s strengths and abilities. This approach reinforces a positive self-perception based on realistic self-assessment.


Modeling Healthy Self-Worth


Children learn by observing their parents. Modeling healthy self-worth involves
demonstrating self-respect, self-care, and a positive attitude toward one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Parents serve as living examples of what it means to value oneself.

Constructive Feedback and Encouragement:

Offering constructive feedback that focuses on effort rather than inherent worth is the most helpful way to give feedback to our kids. Encouraging perseverance, resilience, and the learning process reinforces the idea that value is not solely based on achievements but also on the journey of personal growth.


Addressing Negative Self-Talk


Teens and young adults often grapple with negative self-talk. Parents can help by addressing
and challenging these negative thoughts, promoting self-compassion, and emphasizing the
importance of treating oneself with kindness. In navigating the complexities of parenting during the teen and young adult years, the ultimate concern for every parent is fostering their child’s self-worth. Recognizing the profound influence parents have on shaping their children’s beliefs about themselves is the first step toward actively contributing to their emotional well-being. By prioritizing unconditional love, encouraging independence, fostering open communication, and setting realistic expectations, parents lay the groundwork for a positive self-perception in their children. Additionally, modeling healthy self-worth, providing constructive feedback, and addressing negative self-talk contribute to a robust foundation of self-value.




In the tapestry of parenting, every word spoken, action taken, and choice made leaves an
indelible mark on a child’s developing identity. Therefore, the journey of nurturing self-
worth is not just a parental concern but a shared endeavor that paves the way for resilient,
confident, and self-assured individuals to emerge from the cocoon of adolescence and
young adulthood.