How Does Positive Self-Esteem Affect Children as They Develop Through Their Teen Years?

By Kay Ireland
Your teen's self esteem can affect her schoolwork and her social life.
Your teen's self esteem can affect her schoolwork and her social life.

As an adult, you know that having high self-esteem can affect everything from your performance at work to your love life. But for your kids, a positive self-image contributes to current development and future experiences. By helping to promote positive self-esteem through the adolescent and teen years, you can help your child reap the benefits of a high degree of self-worth. Everything from her academics to her social life are affected by the way your teen feels about herself.

Academic Success

Much of your teen's world revolves around school. Of course, for some teens, it's more about the social aspect, but self-esteem can actually affect your teen's academic performance as well. According to the book "Human Development: A Life-Span View: A Life-Span View," an adolescent with low self-esteem may perceive herself as unintelligent and therefore stop pushing to succeed academically. In contrast, a teen with high self-esteem sees the fruits of her labor and works to succeed because she believes that she can.

Risks and Experiences

JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., author of "Girls Will Be Girls," tells PBS Parents that self-esteem can be related to your teen's experiences and risks. She notes that teen girls who avoid risk have lower self-esteem than those who are willing to try something new. A teen that has positive self-esteem is unafraid to have new experiences, whether it's going on a date, joining a sports team, performing in front of others or traveling. Without those risks, a teen could miss out on character-shaping and confidence-boosting experiences that make a big impact.

Social Competency

A teen that has low self-esteem may have trouble making and keeping friends, due to the fact that she feels like she's not worthy, she feels uncomfortable talking with others or doesn't know how to relate to other teens. A teen with positive self-esteem is often the life of the party -- she knows that she has valuable traits that others will enjoy and can easily deal with social conflict and conversation. Those skills will serve her well as she goes through life.

Behavioral Choices

It's normal for teens to rebel and act out every once in a while, but there's a marked difference between the rebellion a low-confidence teen and that of a teen with positive self-esteem. A teen with confidence tries new things and tests her boundaries while still respecting others, notes therapist Carl Pickhardt in an article for Psychology Today. Teens with low self-esteem often take their negative feelings out on others, making them feel worse and creating a cycle of poor behavioral choices.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.