The Importance of Self-Worth


By Valorie Dassel, MSW, LCSW, LCAC, Youth First, Inc.

As parents, we just want our children to be successful and happy. We hope they will be honest, hardworking, and motivated to create healthy work and personal lives. The truth is that the material world will never provide this happiness. True happiness comes from intrinsic self-worth. 

Self-worth is the internal sense of being good enough and worthy of love and belonging from others. While many facets of life and spirituality influence the development of self-worth, part of how an individual defines this worth comes from their achievements.  

These days we often hear comments that teenagers lack motivation. They are often called a “lazy generation.” Of course, the influences of the world we live in have impacted our youth. The pandemic, social media distractions, and culture shifts have taken a toll on young people. However, as parents we must take some ownership and invest in developing our youth to get beyond these hardships.

Helping our teens envision the long-term benefits of working hard to achieve their best is a great place to start. Teaching them how to prioritize their responsibilities and still make time for fun and friends is fundamental.

Allow your teen to fail and use these difficulties to help shape their resiliency and work ethic. There is a wise saying: “When you make a choice, you are choosing the consequences.” Innately in our parent hearts, we want to keep our children from making mistakes. However, these personal dilemmas are often opportunities for personal growth. As parents, we must find a healthy boundary to allow kids to experience failure while also supporting and guiding them. 

Encouraging our children to be able to receive helpful criticism through honest self-assessment is a great way to build their self-esteem. This is best taught through modeling. You can practice modeling by verbalizing situations when you dealt with criticism and talking through the honest parts of the criticism without defense and using rational thought. This skill will address the inclination of some youth to make excuses, which can stunt their personal growth and self-esteem. 

Responsibility fosters confidence in teens to try new things and set goals. When these goals are achieved, their esteem grows and the intrinsic reward results in increased happiness. The internal results of these accomplishments are happiness and life satisfaction.  

These positive character traits translate into teens’ personal relationships, professional lives, and self-worth. Our teenagers are faced with a completely different world than we encountered as teens. The importance of instilling them with positive character traits that previous generations found important has not changed. 

Our youth of today are amazing individuals who still need their parents, communities, and leaders to believe in them guide them, and be open to the new ways they approach the world, while instilling the valued character traits of generations past.