When you hear the words self-esteem who or what do you think of? I think of really confident women who can take on the world and tackle anything that is thrown their way. I also think of times when my own self-esteem has been zero.

To help us to think about this and how we best work with young people, first we need to know the signs we are looking out for when young people’s self esteem is low. The Blurt it Out Foundation have some excellent resources and ideas on their website. Here is a list of signs they have produced to look out for:

  • Comparing ourselves to our peers
  • Blaming ourselves for the actions of others
  • Seeking approval/validation from others
  • Feeling frightened to reach for our dreams
  • Feeling undeserving of help and kindness
  • Playing down achievements
  • Fearing rejection
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless and unlovable
  • Considering ourselves a burden
  • Giving so much of ourselves to others, that there’s nothing left for us
  • Putting ourselves down
  • Never feeling good enough
  • Feeling unable to accept compliments or translate them into pity
  • Taking constructive criticism as a personal attack

I can certainly identify with a lot of things on that list and I know that there are times I feel myself struggling with all of them, but what we are looking for is young people who show these types of struggles on an ongoing basis. This means you must know your young people well to be able to spot the signs of when they are struggling and identify when their self-esteem may be low. It means talking to them, sharing with them and identifying what is going on under the surface.

Once you have identified if the young people you are working with are suffering from low self-esteem there are s few activities listed below that can help them in this difficult and painful struggle...

Make a Self-Esteem Collage

Many people lose their self-esteem when they forget about their hopes, aspirations, and abilities.

It can be helpful for young people to make a collage of things that inspire them and then hang this on their wall in their bedroom. Tell them to take a large piece of poster board and some magazines and find the pictures that represent themselves, their talents, abilities, and aspirations. It is hoped this will help them remember who they are, and what they are capable of, even in those dark moments.


Writing things down is so therapeutic and can be helpful for young people to see that the good days do outweigh the bad. You can also challenge them everyday to look in the mirror and write down three things they like from the reflection looking back at them. This can be hard to do, but with the right encouragement can really help.

Do something nice for yourself

Treating ourselves to things we love, really do make us feel good! Encourage the young person who is struggling to look after themselves and be ready to treat themselves, whether thats to a nap when they need it, good wholesome food, a swim or a movie. When we take time out for ourselves it can boost us to feel a whole lot better.

There are so many helpful websites around self-esteem and it is always helpful to ask young people how you can best help them to move forward. The most important thing for people who are struggling with anything but especially their self-esteem is that they feel listened too, supported and encouraged.

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