5 Roots of Low Self-Esteem in Teens and the Long-Term Effects

teen with low self-esteem

Being a teenager is an integral part of growing up. It is a phase kids go through where they meet friends, understand the world better, and make sense of who they are as individuals. Low self-esteem is a common issue that many teenagers face.

Despite being in the prime of their lives, teenagers can experience various emotions leading to low self-esteem. But what causes low self-esteem in teenagers, and how does it affect them in the long run? Here are some ideas to observe.

1. Parent Influence

Parents play a significant role in shaping their children’s self-esteem. Negative comments and criticism can have a lasting impact on a teenager’s self-esteem. Parents may not realize the harm they are causing when they criticize their child’s appearance, academic performance, or personality.

As a result, parental influence can lead to a teenager feeling unworthy, unloved, and inadequate. Teenagers with low self-esteem due to negative parent influence may struggle with self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-deprecation. It can also develop a lack of confidence in their abilities, difficulty forming relationships, and hopelessness.

2. Body Image

Body image is another major factor contributing to low self-esteem in teenagers. The pressure to fit into societal norms and expectations can make teenagers feel inadequate, unattractive, and unworthy. It can be particularly challenging for teenagers who struggle with weight issues.

Therefore, teenagers who struggle with body image issues may develop eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. They may also become preoccupied with their appearance, leading to an unhealthy obsession with their physical appearance.

3. Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are common mental health issues that can lead to low self-esteem in teenagers. These mental health issues can cause teenagers to feel sad, hopeless, and worthless. As a result, teenagers feel like they are not good enough and do not deserve happiness.

Teens struggling with depression and anxiety may struggle to form relationships, perform in school, and achieve their goals. Sometimes, it is easy for them to feel left out in a group—which is a critical aspect of being a teen. They may also struggle with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

4. Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is another major factor leading to low self-esteem in teenagers. The pressure to fit in with their peers can cause teenagers to engage in activities they may not want to do. It can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment.

Teenagers who give in to peer pressure may struggle with addiction, substance abuse, and other high-risk behaviours. They may also work to form healthy relationships and may struggle with decision-making. Sometimes, they only follow what other people do around them.

5. Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool that can significantly impact a teenager’s self-esteem. It can create a distorted image of reality, causing teenagers to feel inadequate. The pressure to present a perfect idea can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Those struggling with self-esteem due to social media may work to form healthy relationships with addiction and substance abuse. They may also struggle with decision-making and have a distorted sense of self-worth.


Low self-esteem is a prevalent issue that many teenagers face. The root causes of low self-esteem can vary, but they often stem from negative influences such as parents, body image issues, mental health issues, peer pressure, and social media. The long-term effects of low self-esteem can be significant and can have a lasting impact on a teenager’s life.

It is essential for parents, educators, and mental health professionals to recognize the signs of low self-esteem and to provide teenagers with the support and resources they need to build a healthy sense of self-worth. By addressing the root causes of low self-esteem, we can help teenagers develop the confidence and resilience they need to thrive.

If you’re struggling with separation, in need of video counselling, or seeking teen counselling in Guelph, we’re here to help. Our team of experienced therapists provides support for various issues, including anxiety, depression, addiction, relationship challenges, and more. We offer a no-cost phone consultation to help you determine if our counselling services are right for you. Reach out to us today to start your journey toward healing and growth.