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Self-esteem and self-confidence

smiling girl.You may have heard a lot about self-esteem and self-confidence. But what exactly are they, and how do you get them? Keep reading to learn more.

What is self-esteem? arrow. top

Self-esteem has to do with the value and respect you have for yourself. Simply put, it's your opinion of yourself.

If you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and are proud of what you can do. Having healthy self-esteem can help you feel positive overall. And it can make you brave enough to tackle some serious challenges, like trying out for a school play or standing up to a bully.

If you have low self-esteem, you may not think very highly of yourself. Of course, it's normal to feel down about yourself sometimes. But if you feel bad about yourself more often than good, you may have low self-esteem. You can read about rating your self-esteem.

How can low self-esteem hurt? Low self-esteem may stop you from doing things you want to do or from speaking up for yourself. Low self-esteem may even lead you to try to feel better in unhealthy ways, like using drugs or alcohol. Also, some people may start to feel so sad or hopeless about themselves that they develop mental health problems like depression and eating disorders.

A lot of things can affect self-esteem. These include how others treat you, your background and culture, and experiences at school. For example, being put down by your boyfriend, classmates, or family or being bullied can affect how you see yourself. But one of the biggest influences on your self-esteem is … you! Check out our tips for ways to boost your self-esteem.

What is self-confidence? arrow. top

Self-confidence is a little different from self-esteem. Self-confidence has to do with what you think about your skills and abilities.

Self-confidence often comes from trying new things, like speaking more in class or trying out for an afterschool activity. Does that sound a little stressful? That's normal! As you try new things, you will gain confidence in spite of your fears. In fact, that's what real self-confidence is — your belief that you will be fine even in the face of obstacles.

Best boosters

Check out our top tips for building self-esteem and self-confidence.

Rate your self-esteem and self-confidence arrow. top

If you have healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, you probably will agree with some or most of the following statements:

  • I feel good about who I am.
  • I am proud of what I can do, but don't need to show off.
  • I know there are some things that I'm good at and some things I need to improve.
  • I feel it is okay if I win or if I lose.
  • I usually think, "I can do this," before I do something.
  • I am eager to learn new things.
  • I can handle criticism.
  • I like to try to do things without help, but I don't mind asking for help if I need it.
  • I like myself.

If some of the items on this checklist are true for you, congrats! You're on the right track. And if your self-esteem ever slips, you can try these steps.

If you have low self-esteem and self-confidence, you probably will agree with some or most of the following statements:

  • I can't do anything well.
  • I have no friends.
  • I do not like to try new things.
  • I get really upset about making mistakes.
  • I'm not as nice, pretty, or smart as the other girls in my class.
  • I don't like it when people say nice things about me.
  • I get very upset when people criticize me.
  • I feel better if I put other people down.
  • I don't know what I'm good at.
  • I usually think, "I can't do this," before I do something.
  • I don't like myself.

If many of the items on this list apply to you, try some ways to raise your self-esteem. It's no fun to be hard on yourself, and you can work to stop. Remember, everyone brings something unique to the world.


Content last reviewed January 07, 2015
Page last updated February 11, 2015