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Teens and Self-Worth: Suggestions for Helping Your Teen Feel Good About Themselves

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Fred Rogers once wrote, "the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving." This is a great quote to help parents think about raising their teenager.

We live in a society where a teen's self-worth gets tied to their performance or their possessions. Both of these options are problematic and lead to a shaky self-worth.

Mister Rogers was correct. A person's true worth is their identity as someone who's loved and capable of loving.

A Shaky Foundation: Performance and Possessions

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As a teen therapist, I have observed that teens in the Katy, Texas and Houston area often buy into the message that their worth is based on what they do or what they have. Let's start with performance-based approach to self-worth.

Performance Based Self-worth

The performance route says that a teenager is valuable if they get all the right grades. When the teen is struggling in a class, their self-worth is in jeopardy.

This approach teaches teens that they are only good when they excel in sports. If a teen misses a goal or gets injured, they are less valuable.

This view leaves a lot of teens anxious and depressed. Many teens feel like they can never perform well enough to be worthy.

Possessi0n Based Self-worth

A possession-based approach is toxic as well. This approach says a teenager is valuable if they sport they latest fashion.

If a teen can't afford the expensive jeans, they are quick to feel inferior. This approach suggests that a teen is valuable if they have a nice car. If a teens has a junk car or no ride at all, it's easy for them to feel less-than.

Both the possession and performance models are unhealthy cycles. Each one is grounded in unhealthy expectations and results in deep disappointment.

A Strong Foundation: Love and Belonging

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown writes that we are all worthy of love and belonging. This echoes the quote from Mister Rogers.

Love and belonging are not something that we earn. They are a birthright. They are ours because we are human. A teens self-worth should flow out of a deep sense that they are loved and capable of loving.

This truth challenges the performance and possession approaches to self-worth. Your teen is valuable and worthy because they are lovable at their deepest core. Regardless of what they do or have, teens are rooted in love.

3 Ways to Reinforce a Love-Based Self-Worth

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1. Separate Identity and Behavior

Teens act out all the time. They make stupid mistakes and make poor choices. These bad decisions should be addressed and dealt with.

However, we have to be careful not to mistake a behavior with identity. Even when our teen behaves badly, this does not mean they are a bad person. At their core, teens are humans rooted in love and worth.

2. Highlight Positive Traits

Instead of focusing so much on grades or status symbols, highlight character traits. Notice when your teenager is kind and considerate. Praise them when they express love for a sibling.

Reinforce the message that showing love is much more important than performance.

3. Encourage Healthy Relationships

We experience love and belonging in healthy relationships. Encourage your teen to surround themselves with friends who will reinforce their worth.

Create opportunities for your teen to forge bonds with coaches, teachers and clergy. Interactions with other adults can help your teen feel valuable and appreciated.

You may consider encouraging a relationship with a teen therapist. Teen therapy can help your teen focus on character and value based self assessment that can help them with anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, depression, trauma, ADHD and other struggles.

As a teen and family therapist, family therapy can also play a role in helping your teen learn to love themselves for who they are, not what they do or what they own. Teens often compare themselves to their peers performance and possessions. Parents in family therapy have a way of helping them see their own innate strengths, gifts, and talents.

Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Specializing in Teen Therapy in Katy, Texas & Houston

At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in providing teen counseling. Teens encounter a flood of stressors that many of us adults did not experience growing up. Our teen therapists can help your teen and family restore hope, happiness, & connected family relationships.

If you are ready to start your healing journey with one of our teen therapists, you can follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC.

  2. Meet with one of our caring therapists specializing in teen therapy.

  3. Take that first step in restoring hope, happiness, and connected family relationships.

Other Teen Therapy, Family Counseling, & Young Adult Therapy Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling

At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide other counseling and therapeutic services. Marriage counseling and couples therapy are one of those services. Often, when parenting a struggling teen, this can have a direct impact on the parents relationship. Our marriage counselors and couples therapists can help.

We also provide other counseling and therapeutic services for teens, young adults, & families at our Katy, Tx location:


Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

About the Author

Man standing in front of tan brick wall wearing blue dress shirt and tan sports coat smiling. He provides teen therapy, teen counseling and is a teen therapist and a teen counselor in katy, tx 77494.

Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Quique specializes in teen therapy and helping teens build upon their innate strengths while developing skills and tools to overcome depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, and more.

Quique views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.

Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you're ready to start your healing journey in teen therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at

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