What Factors Affect Self-Esteem in Adolescence?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2019
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Self-esteem in adolescence is believed to be closely tied to teens' levels of family support and social acceptance by peers. Physical appearance can be very important to some teens, and can lead to low self-esteem in teens who perceive themselves as physically undesirable or less attractive than their peers. Adolescents can also experience declines in self-esteem if they fail to find themselves excelling in some area of life, whether it be academics, sports, or a hobby.

Increasing self-esteem in adolescence usually involves increasing teens' level of parental support and social interaction. Adolescents who experience personal success, especially those who do well at something that inspires them, are considered more likely to enjoy healthy levels of self-esteem.

Experts believe changes in self-esteem during adolescence can be linked to the adolescent struggle for identity and a sense of belonging. Young adolescents are considered most likely to suffer from drops in self-esteem, due to the lifestyle changes that can occur as one transitions from childhood to the teen years. It is believed, however, that children who enjoy healthy self-esteem will go on to enjoy healthy levels of self-esteem in adolescence.


Adolescents, especially girls, can experience fluctuations in their feelings of self worth due to dissatisfaction with their physical appearance. Girls are considered particularly vulnerable to problems with body image, since they can be greatly influenced by cultural messages that relay a rigid standard of feminine beauty. Boys may struggle with self-esteem problems related to performance issues, especially academic and athletic performance. They may also struggle to adapt to culturally prescribed roles for adult men.

Academic performance is considered an important indicator of self-esteem. Teens who do well in school are most likely to enjoy healthy self-esteem. Good performance in sports, or an enjoyable hobby, such as music or art, can also contribute to an adolescent's self-esteem. Activities such as these allow teens to learn about themselves and build a sense of self-worth by discovering their strengths. Extracurricular and group activities can help teens meet like-minded others and forge friendships, satisfying the need for social acceptance that can be crucial to maintaining healthy self-esteem in adolescence.

The consequences of low self-esteem for adolescents can be severe. Depression, anxiety, self-harming, eating disorders, and even suicide can result. Experts believe, however, that young teens who receive help with self-esteem problems can easily go on to experience healthy levels of self-esteem in late adolescence and adulthood.


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Post 3

I think that teen self esteem is very vulnerable, much more than self esteem in children and adults. There is this strong desire to fit in. They want to do what their peers and friends do and can go to many lengths to achieve it. And if it is not achieved, it causes poor self esteem. This is one of the reasons that my aunt home schools her kids. She thinks that there are too many bad influences at school.

Post 2

There can be so many different factors affecting self esteem. At the very basic level, natural hormonal changes and physical changes can cause low self esteem in adolescents. This is the time when reproductive hormones increase and more body changes occur. This is also the time when social life, popularity and attractiveness to the opposite sex become important in an adolescents' life.

I think it's difficult to pinpoint a single factor affecting self esteem. It's usually multiple things at once. It can be difficult for parents to deal with every single issue. I'm not an expert and it's a good idea to talk to a psychologist about this. But I think the key is teaching adolescents how to think

about themselves and others and making them realize that the things that they are worrying about are not really that important.

For example, I teach my daughter that outer appearance is not important. Our outer appearance doesn't say anything about our personality or our capabilities. I teach her to value herself and love herself. I teach her not to pay attention to what other people think about her. If an adolescent has this strong foundation to rely on, which parents help develop, their self esteem won't be as affected by outside factors and influences. I think that parents need to pay extra attention to building self esteem during adolescent years.

Post 1

Why would an adolescent with good grades and friends have poor self esteem? How can adults help adolescents build self esteem?

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