The teen years bring a boat load of new experiences both physically, socially and mentally in which a teen must learn to adapt to changes successfully, or the consequences can prove to make his later years even more of a challenge. Low self-esteem can lead to depression and anxiety.
What exactly is self-esteem? Basically, self-esteem is the feeling of self-worth. The more worthy an individual feels of having good things happen to him, the more likely good things happen. We will examine the three changes that happen to teens and how they affect self-esteem.
Teens experience the greatest changes in their physical bodies in the pre-teen through high school years. These are the years of sexual development when physical and hormonal changes take place. These changes can be confusing if the teen has not been prepared in advance. Guys may experience growth spurts that make them feel awkward, or not grow as fast as others. Girls may develop breasts faster or slower than their friends and begin or not begin their menstrual cycles.
If parents are open to questions and concerns about these changes and can speak frankly or share their own experiences, the teen will feel less intimidated and realize that everyone their age is going through the same changes. High self-esteem can be developed or maintained when a teen feels less alone or less different than their peers.
Social consciousness begins to be very important in the pre-teen years and continues on through high school. Teens become picky about their friends, their clothes, and even their family members. There is a natural pulling away from the family that appears to be developing independence, but an independent attitude is not “cool” in their social circles. They seek to be like their friends and associates.
They also discover the opposite sex. Girls used to be avoided like the plague. Now guys are acting silly just to get a girl’s attention. Girls’ interests turn from dolls or sports to making sure their clothes, hair and makeup attract the guys.
Mothers and especially fathers can help their daughters by letting them know that they are deserving of respect from young men. Parents should also work with their sons by helping him realize he deserves to be treated well. Supervised dances and group dating should be encouraged in order to provide social interaction.
The drawing away from family mentioned earlier is one of the first signs of mental changes in the adolescent. The teen begins to have his own ideas of what works for him, and may even try to break the rules parents have set for the household. It is best that parents keep to rules that bring about safety and security to everyone involved. Moral standards must be met in order to secure the health and well-being of the teen.
However, parents must also recognize that rigidity without compromise only breeds defiance. The parents must learn to pick their fights. A teen should always be able to express himself in a respectful manner so that the parents can know what motivates the teen to make certain requests. A teen who knows he is at least heard feels worthy of respect.
It is extremely important that parents help a teen develop high self-esteem. The more a teen perceives himself as worthy of good things happening to him, the better his outlook, attitude and behavior. Parents must be aware and gauge the teen’s self-esteem in order to combat depression and anxiety.