Being a teenager can feel challenging, weird, and scary. The pandemic didn’t help. Our teenage girls have had to contend with the effects of lockdown, learn how to navigate this new season of their lives under very stressful and unusual circumstances, and try to make sense of life.
Without the added pressure the pandemic brought, navigating the teen years in an ever-changing world has become stressful. Our girls need all the help and guidance they can get.
Boys and girls approaching puberty usually have the same stressors as it relates to academic performance, friends, fitting in, and managing relationships. However, studies have shown girls experience more emotional upheavals, which in turn affect how they view themselves and their place in the world.
At this age, a girl’s sense of self is very important, it affects all she does and how she performs. This sense of self informs her self-esteem. By definition, self-esteem is the ability to feel good about oneself, to be comfortable in our skin, and trust our abilities.
Why teen girls struggle with self-esteem issues.
There are numerous reasons why girls struggle with their self-esteem, especially in their teenage years. Understanding these reasons could give insight into how to help, how to validate their experiences, and bring understanding and acceptance.
Puberty – Over the past couple of years, girls are gaining maturity much faster than before. Puberty is starting earlier than in previous generations. This brings about many challenges for young girls who are transitioning into a new season when they still feel young. Their self-esteem suffers during this period since they might feel not equipped to deal with all the hormonal, emotional, and mood changes. It can feel overwhelming.
Criticism – Whether young or old, criticism of any kind can be detrimental to how we view ourselves. Teenage girls are unfortunately at times faced with criticism in the two places they spend most of their time: home and school. Bullying at school is the worst kind of criticism for any child to face. It has lasting effects. Also in the home, if a teenage girl faces critical parents and or siblings, this can make her believe in all the negative things being said about her and the detrimental effects can last for decades.
Social Media & Technology – With the advancement of technology over the years, most teenage girls have found refuge in their phones. It can be for scrolling social media, chatting with friends online, following the lives of their role models, or learning more about the world.
All of this is not bad. Yet it becomes a cause for concern when girls want to live up to the curated and sometimes unrealistic life being seen online. Technology has also been responsible for the rise in cyberbullying.
Lack of Support – Without understanding how important it is to support girls as they are transitioning into the teenage phase, many young girls are left to navigate this stage of their lives on their own. Due to the fast-paced and demanding world of work, most parents are not available to be there as much as they would love for their daughters. Sometimes even if the parents are there, they lack the necessary tools needed to help their daughter in this phase of her life. That’s why there are many parenting courses and seminars that focus on raising teenagers. It is from understanding how hard this phase of life can be.
Mental Health – Everything about who we are and what we believe we are starts in our minds. For teenagers to have an accurate view of themselves, they need to be mentally healthy. If they are struggling with anxiety disorders and / or depression, their self-esteem usually suffers.
They are not in the right frame of mind to be objective about who they are, their abilities, and their limitations. When a teenage girl is struggling with mental health issues, she usually has a poor image of herself and often compares herself to her peers who may not be facing the same mental challenges.
Feelings of Helplessness and Hopelessness – With so much access to information, teen girls are being exposed to a lot of hard, sad, and sometimes traumatic events happening in their communities and the world. This has contributed to many of them feeling hopeless and helpless in the face of it all. Their inability to do anything about it may leave them with overwhelming feelings of worthlessness.
Why teen girls need to work on self-esteem.
Having stated some of the reasons why teen girls struggle with self-esteem issues, we need to look at why it is important for them to walk in their God-given identity and confidence. Being self-assured, yet not arrogant, is helpful for teen girls to take charge of their lives, know they are not powerless, and have to ability to dream and follow those dreams.
Society is better if we invest in building up our girls from a young age. Below are some of the benefits of high self-esteem in teenage girls.
Prioritize Self–Development – Teenage girls with high self-esteem have the motivation to prioritize their personal development, not from a place of inferiority but a place of confidence in whom they can become.
Sense of Belonging – According to Eric Erickson’s stages of development, teenage girls are going through the phase of identity versus role confusion. This is the stage where they are trying to find where they belong and who they are. A self-assured teenage girl will be able to navigate this stage without the need to bend down to peer pressure. She knows herself enough to know where she belongs.
Understand and Manage Emotions – Understanding and dealing with emotions is a life-long journey. However, if teenage girls get to know, understand, and accept who they are, they have a better chance of knowing how to deal with the emotions and moods that come with puberty and with life.
Positive Outlook on Life – Having high self-esteem helps with having a positive outlook on life. Teenage girls going through so much change and transition might find themselves overwhelmed and without hope for the future. However, having high self-esteem means they do not always feel gloomy about themselves, their circumstances, or what the future might hold. They have the freedom to dream with a positive outlook on life.
Build resilience – Resilience is about knowing how to handle failure and how to face hard times. Nobody, not even our teen girls, is immune from failure and the hardships of the world. Healthy self-esteem can help teen girls to look at times of failure as valuable lessons. They can pick themselves up and try again. They can have a healthy understanding that failure does not define them but teaches what needs to be done differently.
Better Relationships – Relationships for teen girls are crucial, especially with their friends. When teenage girls participate in relationships from a place of confidence, they are less likely to be taken advantage of or bow down to peer pressure.
With high self-esteem also comes the confidence to make and maintain friendships. They will not be shy. The ability to foster good friendships will serve them in later years as they navigate the world of work and romantic relationships.
How to help your teen girl.
When it comes to raising strong confident teen girls, parents and guardians need to be there each step of the way. It’s true that this is the time when they start to exert their individuality. But the love and support of those around them is invaluable since not all teenagers will go through this transition time smoothly.
It is comforting to know that if you need help with your teen girl, a caring Christian counselor is available to assist you. A counselor who works with teens will understand the intricacies of what your daughter is going through, and can offer the support and tools you need as a family. Reach out to us today to learn more.
“Friends in a Field”, Courtesy of Melissa Askew, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Resting on the Steps”, Courtesy of Zhivko Minkov, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Studying in the Library”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Celebration at Sunset”, Courtesy of Levi Guzman