Build Teen Self-Esteem As A Prevention
One of the main reasons teens turn to drugs and alcohol is low self-esteem.
The key to keeping teens from abusing these drugs is to help them build their self-esteem.According to various health reports, teens are less likely to participate in recreational drugs and binge drinking if they have high self-esteem.
Typically, drug and alcohol abusers are usually people who want the quick high of substance abuse in order to feel good or accepted. They often are people who do not feel wanted or needed in society, and they seek that gratification in the use of drugs and/or alcohol in order to feel better about themselves and the world.
The key to remember is that we’re talking about abusers not typical addicted users. To prevent teen drug abuse and teen alcohol abuse, we must foster in teenagers these feelings of acceptance, self-worth and adequacy.
Reap Benefits For Life
If a teen can learn to feel good about themselves, they can reap the benefits their entire life, and it will be a guarantee that they will never feel the need for substance abuse to make them feel good about themselves. The formula is simple; we are trying to encourage good habits of thinking, rather than the self-destructive habits of drug andalcohol addiction.
Good teen self-esteem means simply being happy, and feeling that one is worthy to be happy. It is a reaction to the challenges of everyday life that teenagers and adults face.
It also includes confidence in our thoughts and opinions, and a belief in ourselves.
It is a way of looking at oneself emotionally, mentally and physically.Having good self-esteem allows us to be able to handle what the world throws at us (living life on life’s terms) without having to turn to other influences such as drugs, alcohol or dangerous behaviors.
Developing Positive Self-Esteem
Everyone has their own opinion of themselves, but not everyone has a positive one. A positive self-opinion goes a long way in ensuring personal happiness. Developing a healthy self-esteem is a habit of thought,and like other habits it involves work and gradual building. You cannot just simply have good self-esteem.
You gradually develop it as you mature from middle-school years and on.Your self-esteem is fostered by your own actions and feelings, but also by the world around you. If you feel as though people accept you and like you, it is only natural for you to develop a stronger sense of positive self-esteem.
Only You Can Develop Your Teen’s Self-Esteem
This is why it is a challenge. Mental health specialists and counselors know that a teen needs to feel good about themselves, but sometimes their own negative self opinion acts as a barrier.
One has to have the inner strength to foster this good habit, and the lack of confidence in oneself is a major risk factor for teen drug and alcohol addiction. If you don’t have some positive self-esteem within, it is difficult to accept that the world around you likes you and thinks that you are valuable and good.
Adolescence Is A Difficult Time In Everyone’s Life
This is a stressful time with lots of changes. It may be difficult to deal with all the new things thrown at you, and for this reason teens are especially susceptible to outside influences. What may start out as a “fun” or “rebellious” activity can quickly turn itself around to becoming an abuse issue.
It is hard for teens to understand the truth about themselves, and often they value themselves according to what their friends and peers think. This is what makes drug and alcohol addiction so dangerous for teens; they are very vulnerable to pressure from outside. This is what causes teens’ images of themselves to become distorted.
This is also important to parents. Teens are especially vulnerable to the opinions of others at this point in their lives. It may be hard to believe, but this includes their parents’ opinions as well. You and your teens may argue with one another but deep down, the teens truly value your opinion.
Parents can be the key. It may seem like they don’t listen to you, or that they care more about what their friends think, but the truth is that you can be the catalyst in keeping them off drugs and alcohol. Whether they mean to or not, teens listen to their parents, and care deeply whether their parents value them as people or not.
The teenage years are a process of learning and establishing boundaries as well as goals for life. Teens, whether intentionally or not, tend to follow the guidance and value of the parents. Of all the people in the world, teens instinctively want to be valued by their parents.
Just think of how many adults are still at the same stage of wanting to be accepted by family members for being just who they are. It’s not at all unusual then for teens to share the same types of feelings. Positive self-esteem is a gradual process, and it’s not always easy.
Things You Can Do To Help
- Kids need rules. It doesn’t matter how old they are. Make sure you have rules and stick to them. Also make sure your teen understands why the rules are there. Teens will feel that you are being fair if they understand the reason for the rules. If nothing else, they will know deep down that you do care about them and what happens to them. Of course they may not be able to admit this part of their feelings to you but it is there within them.
- Make sure you give them as much positive criticism as negative criticism. When you do offer criticism, always emphasize the positive. If your teen feels like you are just cutting them down, they will quit listening.
- Foster independence. Let them do some things by themselves. Teenagers have to become good decision makers, so let them have a little independence. You have to start trusting that the values you instilled in the kids will be stronger then temptations surrounding them. Without some independence they will be more vulnerable to peer pressure instead of being able to make their own decisions.
- Keep in touch. Always let your teen know that they can talk to you about their problems. Be there for them, and try to listen and be non-judgmental. Good communication between teens and parents is a great way to prevent drug and alcohol problems.
- Dream together. Work on putting you and your teens dreams in the same place. Work toward a common goal together.
The damage done by drug and alcohol addiction can be long lasting and even fatal. No parent wants their child to go through the torture of substance abuse dependency. This is why it is important to parents to let their teens know that they are valued, and that they deserve their own happiness and contentment. It is never too late to start building teen self-esteem.
Girls And The Media
The issue of media’s impact on teenagers has generated a lot of interest in the last decade. All researchers agree that teenage girls as a group are focused on their looks, especially on what they don’t like about themselves!
Marketing departments and ad agencies spend millions each year targeting teenage girls who spend much of their hard earned dollars (and their parents’ hard earned dollars!) on looking good. Although the message of “girl power” is prevalent in today’s marketing messages, so is the irrefutable idea that “sexy” and “thin” are in!
The dieting industry alone generates 40 billion dollars per year in America. If you believe diets are just for adults, you will be shocked to learn that a Harvard study (Fat Talk, Harvard University Press) revealed that 86% of teenage girls are on a diet or believe they should be on one. Diets are common among both teens and children.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association,51% of 9 and 10-year-old girls actually feel better about themselves when on a diet. As a society, our obsession with thin is relatively new.
Most people (especially teens) are shocked to find that sex icon Marilyn Monroe actually wore a size 14! But pick up a fashion magazine today and you’ll find models who are thinner than 98% of all the girls and women in America.
Fortunately, parents have a huge impact on their daughters teen self-esteem — more so than even the media.
Five helpful Parenting Tips
- Encourage and support your daughter’s achievements and passions. Focus on what it is that your teenage daughter is good at. If she enjoys math, animals or singing, support her. Acknowledge the presence of pretty girls in the media with, “obviously outward beauty is one of her gifts. You’ve got many
gifts yourself,” then name her gifts.
- Help your daughter get in touch with reality.
We are bombarded with perfect idealized models of what a woman should look like. But the fact is less than 1% of the girls out there will ever become a super model. Share these facts with your daughter.
- Focus on a Healthy Lifestyle. The less junk food you keep around the house, the less you and your family will eat it! Do you and your family a favor, stock up on the healthy food and refrain from insisting on second helpings. If the scale in your home is a bit of an obsession, consider tossing it out. Instead focus on how well and how healthy each of you feels instead.
- Contribute to Others. Our preoccupation with our own weight can be positively transformed when we start focusing on others. Being a volunteer boosts self-esteem. Volunteer as a family, bring a smile to others, and you’ll all be reminded of how truly fortunate you are.
- Encourage dad to pay attention in a positive way. Help dad understand how detrimental well intentioned teasing about weight or looks can be. Encourage him to spend time with his daughter focusing on all the things that she is great at. It is sad that many teenage girls and women believe that they need to be someone other than who they truly are. It is time to come clean by beginning to love the person we are…flaws and all.
Embracing our imperfection gives us the opportunity to see all the awesome things about ourselves. Stop hiding your flaws, they are the beauty marks that make your stand out from the crowd.
Drug Abuse In Boys
Eleven year-old boys who displayed evidence of low self-esteem were more likely to be dependent upon drugs at age 20 than boys who didn’t have low self-esteem, according to a study conducted at Florida State University.
Sociology professors studied a sample of over 870 boys from diverse racial and ethnic groups for a period of nine years to try and identify potential early warning signs for drug dependence.
They asked the boys to rate the truthfulness of statements such as “I feel like I am a failure” and other measures of low teen self-esteem.
Boys were first interviewed when they were in eithersixth or seventh grade, and the participants were subsequently interviewed three more times over a nine-year period when the boys were between 19 and 21 years old.
Researchers considered a boy to be drug-dependent if he exhibited three or more symptoms, such as:
- Using larger and larger amounts of a drug over time.
- Has failed at attempts to stop the drug use.
- Withdraws from family and friends because of drug use.
Boys who had very low teen self-esteem in the sixth or seventh grade were 1.6 times more likely to meet the criteria for drug dependence nine years later than other children.
Overall, 10% (87 boys) were found to be drug-dependent.
While it is already known that low teen self-esteem is connected with drug use in adolescents, this study is important because it suggests that early, measurable factors (low self esteem and belief that their peers approve of drug use) can identify boys at future risk for drug dependence as early as age 11.
Both parents and teachers can be on the lookout for signs of low teen self-esteem and can even use a simple questionnaire to identify feelings of low self-esteem.
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