Self-esteem is how much you value yourself - in being yourself and doing what you do. Persons with high self-esteem make friendship easily, they can control their behavior, and also enjoy life to its fullest.
A healthy lifestyle (exercising and eating right) and a positive attitude are the secrets for high self-esteem. Focusing on the things one is good at and the positive aspects of one's life and challenging oneself mentally and physically will increase self-esteem.
Factors Affecting Self-Esteem
Negative Body Image
Body image is how a person feels about their physical appearance. For teenagers, body image is closely linked to self-image since at that stage it matters to them how others see them. Also, media often extols virtues of thin, tall, good looking women and muscular, beefy men. When kids fall short of these expectations they start getting a negative body image leading to low self-esteem.
At school there is pressure to be more beautiful, more intelligent, and more popular than their peers. Children who are fat and not particularly smart become targets for bullying.
Criticism at Home
At times insensitive parents end up criticizing the child more than praising them. They ridicule their appearance or performance at school thinking that will motivate them to do better but more often this sends the child further into a shell and destroys his confidence. Also, comparisons between siblings hurt self-esteem
Puberty brings several physical and hormonal changes with it . It affects different people differently. Some develop a temporary layer of fat to help with growth spurt, others put on weight permanently, yet others develop excessive facial hair, and for some, hormonal changes make them cranky and depressed.
How Parents Can Help
Parents need to tell kids how much they love them and how proud they are of them. Stress on the fact that nobody is perfect and everybody is special in their own unique way.
Be involved in their life. Encourage them to make friends, have them over, and ensure they have friends who lift them up, not pull them down.
If there is some talent they possess, encourage and support it - like taking them to music lessons, art class, etc.
Talk to them often and really listen to what they have to say, especially during puberty. Look out for signs that they might be unhappy or depressed. Build a rapport wherein they will confide in you.
Seeking Outside Help to Build Self-Esteem
Sometimes the problem might be so severe that the child might go into depression, not want to communicate with parents, and might resort to alcohol, drug abuse and end up with an eating disorder. At such times one could approach an outside source that might be able to better help the child - like a coach, school counselor, religious leader, therapist, or an adult the child shares a close bond with. If the problem needs immediate attention teen crisis hotlines will help - the phone numbers will be in the yellow pages or on the net.