Dr Carol’s Self-Esteem Scale

measure self-esteemI designed this self-esteem scale as a quick reference tool for the teen girls I work with. It’s notso much a scale as it is a starting point for building healthy self-esteem. It allows for honest reflection on where you see your self-esteem presently and where you would like it to be.  Remember, self-esteem is not “fixed” meaning… it can change and grow with time.

1–3: Your self-esteem is on the lower end. You’re more concerned with how others view you or define you. You basically see yourself through the eyes of others. You don’t trust in your own decisions. You tend to go along with the crowd, whether you want to or not. You don’t rock the boat and aren’t sure how to stand up for yourself in tough situations. You don’t like to make others angry and will avoid confrontation at all costs. You aren’t sure if you can trust your friends 100%. You may have felt bullied at some point in life and still feel negative effects from it.

4-6: You have moderate self-esteem. You look to others for guidance when making decisions. You trust in what others say a bit more than trusting in yourself. You sometimes hold back how you feel because you’re concerned about your friends passing judgment. You can be a people pleaser. You feel you can comfortably trust your friends 75-80% of the time with most information without them using it against you.

  7–8: You have relatively strong self-esteem. You have a strong sense of self and you listen to yourself over the opinions of others. You aren’t easily swayed into uncomfortable situations and rarely feel peer pressured. You are unique and independent, and you can comfortably stand up for what is right without worrying about the consequences. You have a strong group of friends that you trust 80% to 100% of the time.

9-10: You have high self-esteem. You are comfortable in most situations at school and with friends. You are comfortable with all aspects of yourself. You’re accepting of your friends and the way they are. You do not fall victim to peer pressuring or bullying and don’t allow it to occur around you either. You do not feel the need to judge or gossip about others. You are a trustworthy friend.

Questions for Reflection

1) Where do you see yourself on the scale of self-esteem and why?

2) What external factors (looks, grades, boyfriends, etc.) do you depend on to “raise” your self-esteem?

3) Can any of these factors truly help your long-term self-esteem? Explain.

How Volunteering Leads to Higher Self-Esteem

Many teens today do have healthy self-esteem.  I find teens that engage in one of 3 specific activities to have the highest self-esteem and the most positive self-regard. Theses activities center around doing for others and/or have a higher purpose beyond self.

1) Working— Having a job can be a powerful tool to build one’s self-esteem.  It promotes responsibility, dependability, people (depending on the job) look to you for help or information and the reward is the power of knowledge and ultimately a pay check.  I remember one teen telling me that she loved her job at a scarf shop because people were always asking her advise on colors and styles and sometimes buying the scarfs that she picked out.  It made her feel important and valued, which boosted her self-esteem.

2) VolunteeringTeens that volunteer and move beyond their comfort zone, see how much they really do have. They gain a healthy perspective on their life and reflect on how fortune they are. Some teens with the highest self-esteem engage in volunteer activities with a parent.  It becomes “their thing” to do weekly or one saturday a month.  It leads to real conversations about the world, life, happiness and the importance of charity. My hat goes off to all the mom’s and dad’s who engage in volunteer activities with their children.  It pays off more than you realize.  You are raising compassionate, giving, well-adjusted teens, who lead by your example. Remember, long-term consistency is key here.

3) Playing a Sport– Teens that are trained athletes and/or play on sports teams tend to have higher self-esteem.  There is something very powerful in pushing oneself further that you expect you can go to realize what you’re made of.  The concept of being part of a team and striving toward something together creates a sense of belonging and pride, kind of like a family. You have others counting on you, expecting you to give your all for the good of the team. It becomes much more than physical fitness or ability, it leads to mental and emotional growth as well. Looking beyond yourself for the good of the team strengthens maturity, confidence and  self-esteem.

Easy Steps to RAISE Your Self-Esteem

  • R – Resilience
  • A – Attitude/Adaptability
  • I – Independence
  • S – Self-respect
  • E – Empowerment

For many of us, we have daily struggles at home, at work, as well as in our social lives. For adults, managing many of these relationships can be difficult. Now imagine yourself as a 15-year-old girl trying to maneuver the landscape of her everyday life.  Without tools, strategies, or resources this is nearly impossible.  Having counseled and interviewed hundreds of teen girls, I designed  a system to help them combat these challenges. I created my system to RAISE  their self-esteem. RAISE stands for: Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment. Being more conscious of these terms, their meanings and their connection as a whole is critical for forming positive relationships as well as a healthy sense of self.  I see RAISE as a toolkit for self-esteem. Once young women can differentiate among these tools and know how to use them, I truly believe they will be on their way to healthier living.

Resilience (Or self perseverance) is a great defense against peer pressure.

It’s probably no surprise that teens rate their friend’s and classmates disapproval as most difficult to take; however, it may surprise you that behind friends, a far second would be their teachers and in last place are mom and dad. Disapproval by their friends and classmates will be avoided at any cost.  This is where peer pressure can come into play if they do not have a strong sense of self (healthy self-esteem).  To combat those pressures, resilience must be built up and nurtured by family and friends early on. Support systems must also be in place to continually foster their self-esteem as they grow.

Attitude– Having a positive attitude will always enhance your self-esteem.

Developmentally, the teen years are extremely complex.  Dynamics among friendships start to shift, extreme self-awareness takes hold, not to mention identity development mixed with puberty.  Throne together this is a concoction waiting for disaster.  Teen girls deal with these changes in many ways.  Some become moody, some find themselves crying over big and small issues, some begin to challenge their parents, and many express feeling sad or depressed for no reason.  That can be a very scary experience which causes extreme confusion.  Staying mentally fit with a positive attitude is key.  My technique offer suggestions and guidance on ways to build and keep up a positive attitude.

Independence- Physical activity, sports, hard work and encouragement can foster independence.

Teens must be encouraged to take on challenges big or small and need praise for their successes and understanding for their defeats.  Sports or other forms of physical activity are perfect for pushing them forward in their independence.  However, this is also where their self-esteem will be tested.  Encourage them to keep going and ultimately they will grow strong, trust in themselves and look inward for approval.  This is the pinnacle of independence.  There is something very powerful in pushing oneself further that you expect you can go to really make you realize what you are made of.  Also, trying a new physical challenge can be a huge confidence builder.  Through RAISE, I will share the benefits of these activities and how they relate to a sense of independence and ultimately positive self-esteem.

Self-Respect– Knowing and approving of yourself is key to healthy self-esteem.

Another term we could use here would be pride. Teens sometimes have difficulty with this concept because they tie it to closely to acceptance by their peers.  Sometimes teens confuse authentic friendships as well as intimate relationships with those that can actually be quite damaging.  If you ask a teen to define self-respect, most of them can. However, they have a difficult time turning those words into action. They don’t understand what self-respect looks like in practice.   My technique can show them what self-respect looks like in action. By talking to teens, I understand their views on self-respect and where they think they or other teens go wrong.  I give concrete examples of authentic relationships and self-respect.

Empowerment (or Encouragement)

Family can be another factor which may contribute to the rise or fall of positive self-esteem.  A family can be the typical structure we see on television with 2 parents, siblings, as well as extended family. However, not everyone comes from that structure, so I define family as that group of people who authentically love, protect, and care about your well-being.  Now, when looking at the typical family unit, messaging by parents is often a powerful tool for building self-esteem.  Children who feel heard by their parents and empowered perceive themselves as important to the make up of the family and tend to have more positive self-esteem.  In addition, adolescents who feel well liked by their parents, also tend to have higher self-esteem.  Children who hear positive affirmations that they are pretty, smart, or good athletes tend to have higher self-esteem as well.  Language in the home can have a direct impact on the formation of healthy adolescent self-esteem. Friends, teachers, coaches and supervisors can also be part of the family unit and play critical roles in fostering  teen empowerment.