The developmental years of teenagers are rife with change. This can be a very difficult time for many teens as they struggle to learn how to express their individuality as separate from parents and society while fulfilling a deep desire to be accepted by their peer group.
Your teenager faces pressure every day with sex, drugs, academic accomplishments and social group acceptance. This very trying time in a young person’s life can lead to feelings of low self-esteem which can become detrimental to you teen’s development if left unchecked or handled inappropriately.
The Dangers of Low Self Esteem
Teenagers with low self-esteem can lash out in many ways as they try to alleviate their pain. While doing so, they may engage in behaviors that are harmful to themselves or others.
One way they might harm themselves in order to gain acceptance or popularity is to become promiscuous, which exposes them to the dangers of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Even if they are fortunate enough to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, being promiscuous can damage teens’ feelings of self worth and work against their need to establish solid relationships.
Both boys and girls are faced with self-image problems that are greatly affected by feelings of low self-esteem. Girls and even some boys feel a need to be thin, while boys and even some girls are pressured to physically excel.
When teens dislike their bodies, this can lead to eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia that can severely damage a teen’s health. These disorders can even become life threatening as teens desperately try conforming to the ideals of others.
The pressure to physically excel can lead to steroid use in order to enhance their performance in sports, which can have long reaching adverse affects. In order to escape these pressures or increase their sense of fitting in, some teens may turn to alcohol or drugs. Not only can this cause harm to the body and mind, it’s also illegal which can lead to problems with the law as well.
Other teens find coping with the perceived expectations and feelings of low self worth so difficult they opt for suicide in order to escape or they lash out by causing harm to other people or property, which once again can lead to problems with the law.
As you can see, low self-esteem can have far reaching negative consequences for not only your teenager, but for you as parents, for your entire family and in some cases even for society at large.
Can Your Teen’s Low Self-esteem Improve?
Yes, a teen’s self-esteem can improve. Recognizing that there is a problem and understanding that there are ways to help are the first steps in resolving the issue. To improve a teen’s self esteem there needs to be a combined effort between the parents, the family, and the teenager. All need to be willing to put forth some effort in order to achieve long lasting improvements. The results of your efforts will be well worth it and highly rewarding.