Self-Esteem A guide for guardians of middle school girls
Today’s Goals • Talk about factors that affect overall self-esteem • Provide strategies that can help you boost your student’s self-esteem • Help the girls of CMS choose healthy behaviors, feel good about themselves, and separate self-worth from physical appearance
Self-Esteem • Impacted by factors such as age, race, ethnicity, puberty, body weight, involvement in physical activity, and gender • Girls report lower total self-concept than boys • Declines in adolescence • Girls’ self-esteem does not increase until adulthood (Myers, Willse, & Villalba, 2011) • Across all racial groups (Choate, 2007)
Why is important for girls to have high self-esteem? • Low self-esteem can lead to emotional distress, obsessive thinking about appearance, unnecessary cosmetic surgery, depression, smoking, and maladaptive eating practices, (Choate, 2007) & poor health (Myers, Willse, & Villalba, 2011) • Positive self-esteem has been linked with mental health, feelings of mattering to others, positive body-image & physical health (Myers, Willse, & Villalba, 2011)
Middle School: A Critical Period • In adolescence, body image becomes the most important factor in determining self-esteem • Puberty brings average weight gain of 50 pounds in girls • When a girl’s physical appearance becomes most important to her, her body is undergoing changes that stray from her ideal • 40%-70% of teen girls are dissatisfied with two or more aspects of their bodies • 42% to 45% of 9th to 12th grade girls were dieting to lose weight in a large-scale study • Adolescent girls especially form self-identity based on social comparison and media images • Interest in dating makes girls more aware of their appearances as part of their identities (Choate, 2007)
What Factors Negatively Impact Self-Esteem? • Gender role messages that encourage girls to conform • Contradictory cultural expectations that tell girls that they should strive to be “superwomen” lead to feelings of inadequacy • Media messages that tell girls that they can become perfect if they work hard enough lead to self-blame (Choate, 2007) • Peer group discussions that center around appearances and boys • Lack of social support (Dalgas-Pelish, 2006) • Perceived body image, not BMI • Teasing (Kutob, Senf, Crago, & Shisslak, 2010)
What can guardians do to help their students with self-esteem?
Coping Self • Leisure • Stress management • Self worth • Realistic beliefs
Leisure TIPS: Help her find leisure and extracurricular activities that are fun and are in line with her values (Choate, 2007) • Girls who are involved in physical activity generally have higher levels of self-esteem • make sure girls are involved for the right reasons! • Girls who are involved in team sports generally have higher levels of self-esteem
Self Worth and Realistic Beliefs TIPS: • Help her understand the harmful messages being sent by the media. You could create a scrapbook that compares realistic/healthy images to unrealistic ones • Encourage girls to be independent thinkers. Sit down with your student and talk about cultural values and encourage her to make decisions for herself • Talk about the importance of developing a personal value system • Develop a “gratitude journal” that focuses on what is going well in her life and about her strengths (Choate, 2007)
Social Self TIPS: Discourage diet talk in the home, engage in healthy habits, refrain from negative self-talk Talk about different body types and expose girls to female role models of all shapes and sizes (Choate, 2007) • Girls need family members who provide them with affirming message about their bodies • Female Guardians – girls get messages about their own body image from you!
Social Self TIPS: Encourage your students to get involved in peer groups that help them to feel good about themselves (Choate, 2007) • Friends – Can hurt or help
A Final Note • Teasing is one of the biggest predictors of self-esteem • Talk to your student about telling an adult • If your student reports teasing to you, contact the school • Educate your student on the harmful effects of teasing others (Kutob et al., 2010)
Helping Organizations • Girl Scouts of America www.girlscouts.org • Piedmont YMCA www.piedmontymca.org • Youth Sports Now www.youthsportsnow.org • Confidence Coalition www.confidencecoalition.org • Girl Talk www.mygirltalk.org • Girls on the Run www.girlsontherun.org • Girlshealth.gov
Resources • Think Confident, Be Confident for Teens by Marci Fox & Leslie Sokol • Brave New Girls by Jeanette Gadeberg • The Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals by Lisa M. Schab • Be True to Yourself: A Daily Guide for Teenage Girls by Amanda Ford and Shannon Berning
References Choate, L. (2007). Counseling adolescent girls for body image resilience: Strategies for school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 10(3), 317-326. Dalgas-Pelish, P. (2006). Effects of a self-esteem intervention program on school-age children. Pediatric Nursing, 32(4), 341-348. Kutob, R. M., Senf, J. H., Crago, M., & Shisslak, C. M. (2010). Concurrent and longitudinal predictors of self-esteem in elementary and middle school girls. Journal Of School Health, 80(5), 240-248. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2010.00496.x Myers, J. E., Willise, J. T., & Villalba, J. A. (2011). Promoting self-esteem in adolescents: The influence of wellness factors. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 89(1), 28-36.