Q&A: How Can I Encourage Teens With Low Self Esteem?

Question: I do not yet have children, but recently my 13-year-old niece stayed with me for a week. It was a great time of bonding, but I saw evidence that she struggles with self-esteem. I tried to show her how special she is by pointing out the many talents and qualities God has given her, but I think she longs to be valued by her peers. What can I do to encourage her?

Answer: If a child is not already a confident in his or her identity prior to adolescence, this can be a challenging time in determining where they belong or fit in to their environment. If your niece is not yet a believer, I encourage you to ask God to provide for you an opportunity to share with her the gospel of Jesus.

In Romans 7:7 Paul writes: I would not have known what sin was except through the law. The law is what convicts a person of sin and leads to repentance. The reason some children find it difficult to know where to fit in with their peers is because they are uncertain of their own identity. Once a child receives God’s gift of grace he or she can be taught to understand and embrace their true identity in Christ.

If your niece is a believer, she may not yet understand her true identity in Christ. This could be the best gift you ever give her! First, pray that God will cause her to be teachable and provide you with an uninterrupted opportunity to communicate the following: (Keep in mind every spiritual journey is a process. Therefore, it will be most advantageous if these truths are communicated over a period of time, allowing your niece opportunity to fully understand and apply each principle.)

  • God made each of us exactly as He desires us to be (Psalm 139:13-15).
  • God appointed an exact number of days for each of us to live here on earth and has great purpose for our time here (Psalm 139:16).
  • God asks us to choose to follow His son Jesus, and those who follow Christ will not look like the world (John 17:15-17).
  • Because Christ has nothing in common with the world, those who follow Him will not be understood by the world. Therefore, they will not fit in with its standards for living (John 15:18-19).
  • Even though there are times we feel alone, we are never alone. God is always near us. Although others may forsake us, God never will (Hebrews 13:5b).

Helping your niece understand and walk in her true identity in Christ will enable her to experience the freedom and confidence that knowing Him brings.

From time to time I will be answering reader’s parenting questions. If you would like to submit a question you may do so by contacting me at carla@carlamaclachlan.com.

As published on Examiner.com