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8 activities for building self esteem in teens

Published: Wednesday 19th May 2021

It’s crazy how as kids we’re more carefree, adventurous and imaginative than any other time in our lives. And yet teenagers in the US are struggling with stress, a lack of self-confidence and low self esteem. To celebrate National Teen Self-Esteem month, here’s 8 activities for building self esteem in teens and making sure you look after your mental health.

Female Teen talks to someone about her low self esteem

Make a difference

The first thing teens can do to help improve their self esteem is work on a project or for a cause. Whether you volunteer at a homeless shelter or wash cars in your neighbourhood to earn some cash, do something that will make a difference to someone else. By putting aside your desires and giving up your time for someone else, you’ll gain a much more positive state of mind and a sense of accomplishment.

Be Active

Pick any sport you like, be that Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, or Soccer. Anything that you enjoy doing or think you would enjoy doing. Now try to include this activity within your weekly routine. Not only will the exercise and improved fitness help build self esteem, but the social interaction with other people and building friendships with teammates can help you feel valued and important.


This is just a fun and relaxed activity that everyone should try to increase their independence. Grab a couple of friends or go it alone and get out into nature somewhere. Preferably where there isn’t bears or mountain lions. How can this help with building self esteem in teens? I think being away from technology and social media helps, but it also replaces it with something to keep you busy. Try and immerse yourself in the experience and in nature.

Social media purge

Teen suffering from low self esteem because of social media

This is completely your choice, but if you’re really struggling with your mental health and have low self esteem, maybe it’s because you don’t look the way that you want to look, then deleting or taking a break from social media could literally save your life! Teens more so than anyone else use social media to network with friends and family online. But that also makes them the most susceptible to the downside of social media and the false realities teens are exposed to. Every teen seems to think they’re failing at life if they’re not in pristine physical condition and have pockets full of cash. Social media can be a great thing, but it can also be extremely bad for your mental health. Your self esteem could increase simply by decreasing your exposure to it.

Smells like a Roast

This one is unconventional but I think it can be helpful. We don’t always see our own flaws. You might have acne and think the girl/boy you like won’t date you because of it, but in reality it’s not a problem for them. They’re bothered by something else. Hold a comedy roast with your friends and take it in turns to roast each other. By getting it all out in the open you might discover new flaws you need to work on, and also realise there’s somethings you shouldn’t be as worried about.

Talk to your elders

Building your self esteem can often require us to overcome a mental barrier more than a physical one. And that means we need to take a mental approach. You don’t need to go and see a psychiatrist, simply talk to someone who knows what it’s like to have been in your shoes and ask them what it was like and how they overcame the challenges. You could ask an older sibling, parents, or if it’s not something you want your family to know about, a teacher at school will happily hear you out.

Step outside your comfort zone

Building self esteem in teens by doing improv or drama class

Sometimes we’re limited when we have low self esteem. Teens suffering from anxiety never want to leave their comfort zone, which can quite often be their bedroom watching Netflix all day. But sometimes by living that cycle on repeat, you’re damaging your own self esteem and slipping further away from being happy.

Firstly, take the approach that nothing you do matters. Go to an improv class for example. It doesn’t matter if you have no idea what you’re doing, or if you mess up, it doesn’t matter if you do an amazing job. It matters that you tried did something new and met new people. That feeling you should get will hopefully motivate you to keep trying new things until you find something that sticks.

Buddy up

Finally, this is something that can not just help build your own self esteem, but help someone else build theirs as well. If you notice someone who doesn’t have many friends, maybe they post things on social media but never get any likes. Reach out to that person. You don’t have to become their best friend, but as a human being you should want to make sure they’re ok. It’s possible that together you could find common interests and get involved in a wide variety of activities together.

Building self esteem in teens can be crucial to prepare for working life. All of the activities above might not apply to you or someone you know, but hopefully you now have a wider view of how to improve self esteem. Another idea is looking for part-time or student jobs near you on Zoek

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