Stick it out! This question is really about the lessons we learn from failure and how to build confidence in teens. One of my favorite quotes ties in with this question.
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” — Vince Lombardi.
As a parent, you have to help her get back up. Why? It builds self-perseverance.
So what’s self-perseverance?
Confidence, self-esteem and approval are all tied very closely. Combined, I call this the triangle of self-perseverance. They are interwoven and when out of balance, we can’t be the best version of ourselves. Like a science project that successfully shows cause-and-effect when elements are evenly poured, so too happens with the proper mixture of confidence, self-esteem and approval. Keeping the triangle of self-perseverance in balance is not easy.
Confidence is that undefinable ability or feeling we have that tells us that we can do it. That we are smart enough or strong enough to take something on, win or lose. It provides us with a sense of self where we are comfortable to try something and not fear failure, but look upon it as a growth opportunity. This builds resilience in all of us which in turn squashes fear and cultivates self-esteem.
See more at yourteenmag.com.
Triggers Leading to Adolescent low Self-Esteem
I see 5th and 6th grade as pivotal points in self-esteem development. Between the ages 10 and 12 puberty sets in, increased socializing between the sexes occur and in many cases, verbal teasing begins. More defined social groups and cliques form where peers become a major influence on a child’s self-esteem. Think about it, adolescents spend more time in the classroom with peers than at home with family members. This peer network can define approval or disapproval for actions and behaviors, similar to a “mob mentality.” Their influence on one another can impact future choices and actions based on past experiences. During adolescence many core values and beliefs about self begin to take shape and the relationships that teens build have an influence on that development. Therefor, as adolescents get older, they will choose environments and situations that are inline with their beliefs about self. In other word, if she feels good about herself, she picks healthy environments and supportive friends. If she feels poorly about herself, she makes bad choices. This is where low self-esteem takes shape. Here are a few triggers that can lead to adolescent low self-esteem.
- Being criticized by peers (or an adult figure) for a prolonged period of time.
- Being ignored, ridiculed, or bullied by peers.
- The self-imposed expectation of perfection which cannot be sustained.
- Forced group think conformity so individual needs and interests are denied.
- Being identified as physically different by peers. Too tall, too short, too thin, different hair, braces, etc.
- Having few trusts friends or community outlets (sports team, church group, social clubs, etc.)
I designed this self-esteem scale as a quick reference tool for the teen girls I work with. It’s notso much a scale as it is a starting point for building healthy self-esteem. It allows for honest reflection on where you see your self-esteem presently and where you would like it to be. Remember, self-esteem is not “fixed” meaning… it can change and grow with time.
1–3: Your self-esteem is on the lower end. You’re more concerned with how others view you or define you. You basically see yourself through the eyes of others. You don’t trust in your own decisions. You tend to go along with the crowd, whether you want to or not. You don’t rock the boat and aren’t sure how to stand up for yourself in tough situations. You don’t like to make others angry and will avoid confrontation at all costs. You aren’t sure if you can trust your friends 100%. You may have felt bullied at some point in life and still feel negative effects from it.
4-6: You have moderate self-esteem. You look to others for guidance when making decisions. You trust in what others say a bit more than trusting in yourself. You sometimes hold back how you feel because you’re concerned about your friends passing judgment. You can be a people pleaser. You feel you can comfortably trust your friends 75-80% of the time with most information without them using it against you.
7–8: You have relatively strong self-esteem. You have a strong sense of self and you listen to yourself over the opinions of others. You aren’t easily swayed into uncomfortable situations and rarely feel peer pressured. You are unique and independent, and you can comfortably stand up for what is right without worrying about the consequences. You have a strong group of friends that you trust 80% to 100% of the time.
9-10: You have high self-esteem. You are comfortable in most situations at school and with friends. You are comfortable with all aspects of yourself. You’re accepting of your friends and the way they are. You do not fall victim to peer pressuring or bullying and don’t allow it to occur around you either. You do not feel the need to judge or gossip about others. You are a trustworthy friend.
Questions for Reflection
1) Where do you see yourself on the scale of self-esteem and why?
2) What external factors (looks, grades, boyfriends, etc.) do you depend on to “raise” your self-esteem?
3) Can any of these factors truly help your long-term self-esteem? Explain.