Learn 10 Ways to Build Self-Esteem in Teenagers

by | Apr 21, 2023 | Adolescent Development, Parenting Teenagers, Teen Behaviors, Teen Mental Health

how to build self-esteem in teenagers

Teenage years can be very challenging. It’s a time when young people are developing their minds and bodies. It’s common for teenagers to have low self-esteem and confidence as everything around them is changing. But the good news is you can learn how to build self-esteem in teenagers so that your teen can thrive.

That is why it’s incredibly important to look for ways to help a teenager build self-esteem and confidence, to help them in life.

People often lump the terms self-esteem and self confidence together and use them interchangeably. They are actually not the same thing. Yet it’s important to understand the difference in order to help a teen build confidence and create a positive self-concept about themselves. 

build self-esteem in teenagers

What is Self Esteem?

Self-esteem is how much you like, approve of, or value yourself, while self confidence is a belief in your own abilities. It’s possible to have high self esteem and low confidence…you like yourself, but aren’t super confident in your skills. Sadly, teenagers are often low in both areas, with the teen years being quite challenging.


Teenagers often experience peer pressure, poor self-image issues, negative self-talk, and negative emotions. Combine these with the pressures of society and spending a great deal of time on social media platforms, increased screen time, can contribute to a teen’s low self-esteem. The first step is to identify the signs of low self-esteem and help your teen create healthy habits that will help them in their daily life.

How do you help build a teenager’s self-esteem?

Parents often wonder how they can help improve their child’s confidence as they move into becoming young adults. To build positive self-esteem and self confidence, a few key things need to happen.

Teens need to safely take risks, learn new skills, practice, and make mistakes. Yes, make mistakes! Protecting your teen from making mistakes can do more harm than good. All of these will help release negative behaviors and create positive changes.

building teen confidence

You may not have thought of this but, baking is a positive way for teenagers to work on their self esteem and self confidence. Baking can create a positive sense of self-worth, help create a positive attitude, and be a great way to develop social skills. All while encouraging your teen to try new things and develop a sense of purpose.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways baking empowers teens.


10 Ways to Help a Teenager Build Confidence and Self Esteem

1. Start Simple

If you want your teenager to feel successful, it’s important to start with an easy task. For their first baking effort, don’t have them start by trying to bake a fancy cake with frosting. Cake making is difficult. It requires a lot of knowledge and practice to turn out a beautiful cake.

Instead, encourage your teenager to start with something simple like banana bread, which only requires one bowl and no special equipment, other than a loaf pan.

Baking a simple recipe will encourage your teenager. They will feel self confident when they tackle a recipe that comes out just as they’d hoped.

2. Set Goals

Finding ways to set and achieve goals can increase your teen’s self esteem. They will value themselves if they work hard and see progress. In terms of setting goals in baking, ask your teen to find something they want to bake. If they really want to bake a cake, suggest they start with a sheet cake that can be frosted in its pan. This can be step 1 of their goal. Have them work on step 1 until they feel confident in their skills and are ready to try something new.

It’s fine to stay at this first level to build confidence and learn more about what makes a cake come out soft, moist, and tender.

Progressing to a more difficult cake (like a 2-layer cake) would be step 2. Now they have to take the knowledge that they have to make a sheet cake and transfer that to making a layer cake. Some of the process will be the same, and there will be some new skills for them to learn.

Each time they reach a goal, can lead to a sense of accomplishment, as well as the value of learning a new skill in the kitchen.

3. Take Challenges

teenager confidence

Risk taking is very important for teens. Often parents think of risky behavior as dangerous for teens, but not all risks are dangerous.

Anytime a teenager tries something new, it can be risky. Will they succeed? Will it be difficult? How will they feel after?

Taking a risk while baking can lead to creative expression and new knowledge. What does risk taking in baking look like? It could be substituting an ingredient or adding a different ingredient/flavor. It could even be combining two recipes. I do this all of the time. Recently I made scones and I used part of the directions from one recipe and part from another. The scones came out flaky and just like I wanted. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t taken a risk.

4.  Practice

Teens often don’t have the patience they need to practice a new skill. They decide they are bad or unable without putting in a lot of work. It’s hard to learn something new, even more so if you aren’t being patient.

If your teen participates in a sport or plays an instrument, much of their time is spent practicing, and not performing? Most! Everyday they go to practice, only some days are there games or recitals.

While baking, teens forget about the need to practice. They think everything should be picture perfect, just because they have followed a recipe. Their self confidence falls and they think they are not successful. I have been making cupcakes for years. Every time I start frosting them, my hands shake. I’ve practiced piping frosting, but don’t feel completely accomplished in my skills. More practice would definitely help.

5. Take Pride

teenager confidence

How easy is it to say you can’t do something? And the opposite? How easy is it to say you are good at something? Teenagers don’t want to come across as a know-it all and stand out from the crowd, they’d rather blend in. By not stepping forward and saying, “I’m good at this,” it’s easier for them.

Baking can help your teen be prideful. “I made this!” is a statement I hear all of the time from my teen bakers. They are so excited to create a fantastic treat from scratch. Encourage them to be proud of what they make.

6.  Accept Mistakes

More than other people, teens are very leery of making mistakes.  They want to be accepted and appear knowledgeable. Making mistakes can impact self confidence and self esteem. It’s hard to feel like you’ve failed.

The good news is that in baking, learning often happens after you’ve made a mistake. “Oh, this is what happens when I don’t preheat the oven!” Much of baking is a science. If you change the temperature, ingredients, or cooking time, even by mistake, your results might be impacted.

Parents can help their teens handle their mistakes in the kitchen. Is it a matter of the baked good looking a bit funny? Once I substituted avocado oil for vegetable oil and I ended up with green sugar cookies–yikes! They tasted fine, though. Or is it a complete baking error that causes chocolate mousse not to set and run all over the refrigerator? Yes, this has happened to me!

It’s all a matter of perspective. When I had chocolate dripping all over my refrigerator, I could easily have said it was a baking fail. Instead, I used it as a learning opportunity. I went back to the recipe and figured out what I’d done wrong. It might even be that you don’t do anything wrong, and that the recipe was not a good one. Surprisingly, not all recipes will work.

7.  Take Photos

teen confidence

What’s one of the best ways to record progress? Document it. We all have photo albums of our kids as babies and we add to them over the years to mark important moments/times in their lives, like their birthdays, or school projects, or family trips. It’s often a joy to look back on these memories and say, remember when…?

The same can be true in baking. If your teen takes photos of their baked goods, they can look back and see how much progress they are making. Take photos, not for social media, but to document their successes.

Before I took baking lessons, my first cookies were all different shapes and sizes. I look back at photos and laugh. I didn’t have a cookie scoop. Once I got one, my cookies became much more uniform. Then, I learned that if I wanted them to really be similar, I would have to weigh them before cooking. I don’t always go to all of this trouble, but it’s nice to know I have the knowledge and can make a batch of picture perfect cookies when I want.

Having the old photos of my work reminds me of how far I’ve come. 

8.  Experiment

Teens are working on how they see themselves and sometimes like to experiment. Will I cut my hair short or dye it blue? It’s part of how they build their identities.

Experimenting in the kitchen can be a great and safe way for teens to try out a new identity. Maybe they’ve become intrigued with the values of being vegan and want to try making a recipe without eggs and butter.

It’s also a way to learn, and by doing so, build both self esteem and confidence.

9.  Get Creative

 We think of creativity and the first thing that comes to mind is being artistic or musical. There are so many different ways to express creativity. Teens are experts in being creative. They make their own fashions, dances, language…and so much more.

It’s so easy to show your creative side while baking. Add some colored sprinkles, top your cake with chopped cookies, put Lucky Charms in your brownies!

It’s almost like being a child again. They get to PLAY in the kitchen, and put their own flare in their baked goods.

10.  Share your Creations

It feels good to do nice things for others. Teaching this value to teenagers is important. They can be kind and it will lead to positive feelings about their self worth.

What better way to build your self-esteem than to bake a dessert and share it with others? More often than not, when I bake, I give my treats to other people. It’s so fun to see others become happy when I give them something I’ve spent my time and energy baking.

This nice feeling can come from baking for your family or from baking for friends, neighbors, teachers, really anyone. It’s such a simple thing that can bring about a huge positive feeling.

Baking may be the tool you need…

As a parent of a teenager, you will want them to establish a healthy self esteem and be self confident. Using baking as a tool will help them grow in so many positive ways.  It may be a tool that you haven’t thought of yet, but it’s worth giving a try.

Get started with teaching your teen to bake with my free mini-online baking class! A great way to start learning the power of baking. Click here to access this free class.

sara lane

Author - Sara Lane

Sara has a masters of education in counselling psychology and a graduate certificate in parenting education. She uses her unique set of skills with her parenting education background and love of baking. Sara teaches tweens/teens how to bake and offers tools to help parents who are worried about the well-being of their kids. Sara helps support teens and their parents through the power of baking!


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