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Feel good about who you are

High self-esteem doesn’t necessarily come naturally. By the way we act and interact, we teach young people to believe in themselves and like themselves. Telling and showing youth that we love and accept them for who they are, what they value, and the people they want to become (no matter what) helps build self-esteem. It’s also important to teach young people the values and actions that will build genuine self-esteem, including: caring; giving; treating others with kindness and tolerance; and always doing your personal best in school and other activities (no matter what the voice in your head says).


Research shows that young people who feel good about themselves have positive relationships with parents and peers, increased academic achievement, and a decreased susceptibility to negative peer pressure. Loving yourself is as important as loving other people.

About 48 percent of young people, ages 11–18, report having high self-esteem, according to Search Institute surveys. Only 21% percent of the kids we surveyed reported feeling good about themselves. We need to regularly tell and show young people we accept and value who they are regardless of their choices in order to help them feel good about themselves.


A young person’s self-esteem can be affected by many people and situations. Notice how what you say and do affects the young people around you. Young people’s self-esteem increases when they feel loved, respected, and accepted; taken seriously; and listened to.

Feeling safe and secure, able to make choices, and do good deeds also boosts self-esteem. The most important key to building other’s self-esteem is to let them know they matter and are an important part of society.


In your home and family: Compliment your child and let her or him hear you saying positive things about them to someone else. And not solely about their characteristics or the outcome of what they did, but about the process or effort they put into their achievements.

In your neighborhood and community: Take the time to learn about what the young people in your community think and feel about current events. Ask them not only about school and hobbies, but especially about their opinions on important issues. Let them know you value what they think and how they feel.

In your school or youth program: Publicly congratulate young people’s successes with written notes, calls home, or specific verbal praise. If some students or group members are having a problem, talk to them—or their parents or guardians—privately. And always make sure to highlight the effort or hard work put in even when kids’ attempts at things fail.

You Can Make a Difference for Kids!

Adapted from Instant Assets: 52 Short and Simple E-Mails for Sharing the Asset Message. Copyright © 2007 by Search Institute®, 877-240-7251; http://www.search-institute.org. This message may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only (with this copyright line). All rights reserved.

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