Adolescence and Self-esteem – What You Need To Know

Self-esteem reflects positive image of one’s capabilities and looks. The term self-esteem was first used by the American psychologist William James in 1890. By instinct, we all want high levels of self-esteem which mirror our competence in different arenas.

Self-esteem is not something that can be measured or examined. It resembles “conscience” it is a psychological concept that reflects an important part of an individual’s human nature. The utility and existence of self-esteem is determined through behavioural patterns and emotions which reflect its presence. Self-esteem is never assessed individually. Instead, our competence is always weighed against those of the people around us.

Self-esteem can markedly influence relationships. Research data has proven that members of a family are more likely to treat each other badly when they are low on self-esteem. In a family with high self-esteem members, the reverse is typically true and as they feel good about themselves, they treat each other in a positive manner. Within high self-esteem families, relationships are more likely to become mutually affirming and their members tend to bring out the best in other family members.

High levels of self-esteem are vital during adolescence. An adolescent with a high self-esteem behaves better, learns more and is more socially interactive than an adolescent with low levels of self-esteem. Adolescence is associated with 2 periods when levels of self-esteem are prone to drop. These are:

The first drop of self-esteem often occurs at the onset of adolescence (9-13 years). During this period, the adolescent separates from his/her childhood creating low content with the fact that he/she is no longer treated as a child.

Low self-esteem usually leads to even lower levels of self-esteem. For instance, acting wrongly in a specific situation would make an adolescent feel bad and guilty. This often leads to blame and self criticism which can lead to punishment of one’s self. Eventually, this will lead to lower and lower levels of self-esteem.

As an adolescent, you must learn that when you are hurt or feeling badly, you shouldn’t be harsh on yourself, because this will make the hurt even more agonising. When you are hurt or feeling down, it is the time to treat yourself better motivating yourself to be a better person. The smaller you see yourself and your capabilities, the more negative your evaluation of your competence is, which would reflect low levels of self-esteem.

To enjoy high levels of self-esteem, you must evaluate your capabilities kindly enough and define yourself in a broad manner. It is important that you don’t just think about things you would like to improve, but also focus on your strengths. Make a point of listing your talents, your achievements, or things of which you are proud.  This will bring some balance back to your self-perception It will then translate to higher levels of self-esteem which would make you a better person appreciating your values and allowing others to enjoy the company of you are.

Having a high self-esteem during adolescence is crucial to ensure healthy development during this vital period. Feeling good about one’s self can help you learn better, have more friends and even be a more successful person.