Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view spreads through every thought, producing faulty assumptions and chronic self-destructive behavior.
If untreated, the consequences can be rather extreme including unwanted young pregnancy, deep depression, teen drug abuse, and even suicide. It is important to be cognizant that teenagers need to feel valued and loved.
Here are some of the reasons why teens have low self-esteem
1. Appearance – It may appear superficial, but most teenagers are concerned to some degree with their outward appearance. This can be a difficult barrier to overcome, because in some instances it is hard to change one’s appearance overnight or at all. For example, overweight teens often feel insecure about themselves.
Appearance is one of the leading factors that affect self-esteem in high school. Students often place a high premium on a person’s value or worth based on appearance. Thus, a student who suffers from bad skin, dresses poorly, or is curvy – might suffer from low self-esteem. Such a student may have difficulty fitting in, or others will not want to be friends with him or her because of these perceived shortcomings. Any of these situations can lead to low self-esteem.
2. Bullying – Bullying damages a child’s ability to see him or herself in a positive light. A teen whose self-esteem is shot may start to self-actualize and believe what the bully says is true, and repeat the cycle and begin to self-bully. This may lead to self-loathing or feeling hopeless. Social withdrawal and anxiety may also surface, harming the adolescent’s self-esteem even more. One particularly problematic result of bullying is anger, which can bring about thoughts (or actions) of retaliation.
3. Cyber Bullying – Cyber-bullying is also referred to as Internet-bullying. In a time of explosive teen social media use, online bullying and abuse is prevalent. It comes in many forms from sexting to right out mean spirited social media posts that threaten the very fabric of a teens self esteem.
Cyber bullying can take many forms:
• Sending mean messages or threats to a person’s email account or cell phone
• Spreading rumors online or through texts
• Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or web pages
• Pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person
• Taking unflattering pictures of a person and spreading them through cell phones or the Internet
The i-SAFE foundation, a group that maintains the safety of students on the Internet reports that:
• Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
• More than one in three young people have experienced cyber threats online.
• Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
• Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.
4. Celebrity Role Models
It is no surprise why seven in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks. (Dosomething.org). If you think your sixteen-year-old daughter is okay after watching celebrities that appear to stay eternally thin, you may be quite mistaken. Your daughter probably doesn’t know that the Kardashians swallow Garcinia pills like they are candy to look slim to the million of fans that watch them on television.
“When your life is always on TV, you always have to look good for the camera. My mom literally forces us to be picture perfect,” said Rob Kardashian, who left the show some believe to his sudden weight gain. “She’s been forcing Garcinia pills down Khloe’s throat for the last year. Even Kim has been on my case about using Garcinia for the last year that’s why I left the wedding.”
Teens see these celebrities with size two waists and they feel bad about their bodies, which directly impacts their self-esteem. The emphasis on appearance in our society can’t be ignored. It creates questions of what normal truly is. Are we supposed to look like those models?
These negative thoughts are congruent with statistics that show that an average American in a city will be exposed to upwards of 5,000 media images per day. Now with the advent of Adobe Photoshop – it is important to note that at least 28% of advertisements are retouched with a disclaimer – and an estimated 44% are retouched without a disclaimer (Huffington Post).
5. Grades – Making good grades, earning praise and awards, and reaping other benefits from hard work can help foster healthy self-esteem for a teen. Similarly, students who work hard but receive no recognition, or who do poorly in school, might have low self-esteem. A University of Michigan study found that 80 percent of students surveyed based their self-worth on academic performance.
A 2006 comparison in Milwaukee found that Montessori students without a grade based educational model performed better than grade-based students at reading and math; they also “wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas, and reported feeling more of a sense of community at their school.”
Why all the fuss about Teen self esteem issues?
It may seem trivial or overprotective for parents to worry about their teen’s self esteem, but in reality, it can set the stage for one’s entire life. According to a questionnaire given to 90,000 students in grades 7-12 from Family First Aid, self esteem helps teens deal with emotional stress. Additionally, having good self esteem correlates with success later in life – mainly because good grades and confidence can allow a teen to start out with scholarships and other opportunities.
But these five reasons for a teen’s low self-esteem are just scratching the surface. There are countless other factors including: unrealistic expectations, relationship failure, same sex preference, peer pressure, and of course a teen’s good old parents – who sometimes peck away at their loved ones psyche.