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Body-Image: A source of Low Self-esteem in Adolescents

What is self-esteem?

Definitions / Importance
Obtaining Self-esteem
Data / Studies
Resources / Links

Self-esteem is the global evaluative dimension of the self; also referred to as self-worth or self-image (Santrock, 145). It is an indivdual's sense of worth which results in one's confidence. A person's ability to function, interact socially, succeed at work or academics, respond appropriately to situations, and maintain healthy relationships, are all indicators of one's self-esteem.

Why Is Self-esteem important?

According to Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D., noted author and expert on the subject, "Self-esteem is the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness."

As Branden notes, "Positive self-esteem is the immune system of the spirit, helping an individual face life problems and bounce back from adversity." So, high self-esteem is crucial during the turbulence of your teenage years.

Adolescents with high self-esteem are more likely to believe in themselves and have a sense of importance and self-respect. Self-esteem affects how your children will approach new tasks or challenges and how they interact with others. Teenage children with low self-esteem may avoid challenging activities or may give up quickly, quit, or cheat when things aren't going their way. A child with low self esteem may also be a bully, bossy, controlling, have a low level of self control, and have difficulty making friends.

Children with high self esteem feel a sense of trust, security and feel accepted by others. They understand their own self-worth, have self control and are willing to take on challenging or difficult tasks.

To help with building self-esteem you can spend lots of time with your children, especially in activities that she enjoys and is good at, and allow her to make her own decisions, so she can learn responsibility and can feel that you trust her. Learn to praise your children during adolescence and to pay positive attention to them and teach them how to accept praise for her accomplishments. Avoid criticizing your child too much. Also, do not always rush to rescue your child from frustrating experiences. Instead, try and help her solve the problem herself.

It can help boost your child's self esteem if she feels like she is making a positive contribution to the family. Give her age appropriate chores to do (such as setting the table, taking out the garbage, putting her clothes away, etc), and allow her to do them on her own. Even if she isn't doing the chores perfectly, don't be quick to jump in and help or correct her.

Keep in mind that many children's selfesteem will drop as she begins adolescence. You can help at this time by making sure that she understands and is prepared for all of the changes her body and mind are going through. Be available for communication and reassure her as much as possible.