What Factors Affect Self-Esteem in High School?

Alicia Sparks

Overall, the same kinds of factors that affect self-esteem in adults affect self-esteem in high school students. A teenager’s appearance, successes and achievements, and home life can boost or diminish her self-esteem. Such factors generally fall into one of two categories. Some affect global self-esteem, which is the overall evaluation of one’s self, and others affect situational self-esteem, which is the temporary outlook of one’s self. Sometimes, dealing with self-esteem issues is a normal part of high school, and other times students need help dealing with self-esteem and perhaps other mental health and emotional matters.

Achieving good grades may help improve self-esteem at school.
Achieving good grades may help improve self-esteem at school.

The two basic kinds of self-esteem, global self-esteem and situational self-esteem, affect teenagers in many of the same ways they affect adults. Generally, the differences lie in the way adults have learned to cope with these issues. Too, many teenagers focus more on situational, or temporary, self-esteem in high school than they do on global, overall self-esteem. So, high school students might group all common self-esteem factors, such as appearance, involvement, and success, into the global self-esteem category. Yet, some of these factors are temporary and, when altered, can also change the teenagers’ levels of self-esteem.

Involvement in sports, like field hockey, can help improve a person's self-esteem during the high school years.
Involvement in sports, like field hockey, can help improve a person's self-esteem during the high school years.

Outward appearance is one of the most common factors that affect self-esteem in high school. High school students often base a person’s value or worth on his or her appearance. Thus, a student who suffers from acne, doesn’t wear the “right" clothes, or is too thin or overweight might suffer from low self-esteem. Such a student might feel she doesn’t fit in, or others might not want to be friends with her because of these perceived shortcomings. Both situations can lead to low self-esteem.

A healthy social network can enhance a high school student's self esteem.
A healthy social network can enhance a high school student's self esteem.

A student’s involvement in extracurricular activities like clubs, sports, and special events can affect his self-esteem in high school. Often, a high school student who participates in such activities has a high self-esteem, whereas a student who engages in no activities that cultivate and satisfy his interests might suffer from low self-esteem. Success and achievements can help students improve their self-esteem in high school. Making good grades, earning praise and awards, and reaping other benefits from their hard word can help foster a healthy self-esteem. Similarly, students who work hard but receive no recognition, or who do poorly in school, might have low self-esteem.

Poor self esteem in primary school can carry on into high school.
Poor self esteem in primary school can carry on into high school.

A student’s home life plays a significant role in his or her emotional and mental well-being. Those who have healthy relationships with their parents and other family members tend to have higher self-esteems than those who have unhealthy, dysfunctional family relationships. Sometimes, students who have poor family relationships will seek nurture and approval from other adults, such as friends’ parents or teachers, but some teenagers either don’t, or feel they don’t, have anyone else to turn to.

Weight can have a big impact on self-esteem especially for girls in high school.
Weight can have a big impact on self-esteem especially for girls in high school.

For some teens, none of these factors matter in relation to their self-esteem in high school. A student might be attractive, make excellent grades, take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities, and have a loving, supportive home life and still have a low self-esteem. Such students might suffer from depression or other emotional or mental health issues that prevent them from making accurate and healthy evaluations of themselves.

Finding the ideal extracurricular activity can significantly boost a teen's self-esteem.
Finding the ideal extracurricular activity can significantly boost a teen's self-esteem.

Students who suffer from low self-esteem in high school might benefit from some sort of professional help. Some students find that talking with teachers they trust helps, whereas others seek assistance from school psychologists or outside therapists. These people can help them with ways to improve their evaluations of themselves, and therefore increase their self-esteem.

Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem.
Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem.
Neglect by a parent can impact a child's self-esteem.
Neglect by a parent can impact a child's self-esteem.
Participation in a team sport can impact a student's self-esteem.
Participation in a team sport can impact a student's self-esteem.
Acne can affect the self-esteem of teens.
Acne can affect the self-esteem of teens.

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Discussion Comments

Rundocuri

The article provides good information, and your post is also very relevant Heavanet. Too many kids get caught up in the high school social scene, and lose track of the fact that high school is only four short years and they have many years of achievements ahead of them.

Heavanet

The high school years can be very difficult for a lot of kids, especially those who don't feel like they fit in with any specific social groups. These feelings can easily result in a drop in self-esteem. However, kids who are facing such challenges during their high school years should be guided by parents and teachers to focus on their positive attributes and personal successes. Though it may be difficult for a while, over time this positive feedback will boost their confidence levels.

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