Like many adolescent emotional issues, low self esteem presents a number of chicken and egg conundrums. We know that external factors such as obesity, peer difficulties and school underperformance often coincide with low self esteem, but which causes which? Recent studies indicate that the influence can go both ways—low self-esteem drives certain external behaviors and external behaviors and experiences can cause or exacerbate low self-esteem.
But while the causes and symptoms of low self esteem may be complex and intertwined, research consistently points to high-quality adult and peer relationships as the single best solution for low self esteem. A recent study of middle school student in China and the US showed that students with highly supportive relationships with teachers and peers tend to have higher self-esteem than those who do not. Common treatment practice and the experience of many adolescent therapists and treatment professionals support this finding.
So if your child is suffering from low self-esteem, providing an environment that maximizes high-quality peer and adult relationships may be the best thing you can do. Strategies for fostering self-esteem boosting relationships include:
Small Classrooms: Selecting a school with small classrooms maximizes the opportunity you’re your child to benefit from teacher support and close peer relationships.
Mentor: Providing your child with a mentor can create another opportunity for a non-judging, positive adult relationship
Family Therapy: Often relationships at home can be improved greatly, leading to increased self esteem. Family therapy can help all family members better understand and improve their relationships with each other.
Know her Teachers: Proactively forging positive relationships with your child’s teachers, mentor, therapist and other caregivers may help foster increased support and attention for your child.