Across an individual's lifespan there exist certain tasks which must be accomplished in order for that individual to attain a level of healthy functioning. One of these tasks, which begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood, is the establishment of an identity or an, "individualized definition of self." ( Archer, 1990 ).
Erik H. Erikson, a leading figure in the fields of human development and psychoanalysis, defined identity as a "subjective sense of an invigorating sameness and continuity," as well as a "sense of feeling active and alive." ( Penuel, 1995 ).
As stated above, the task of identity formation is one of great significance which takes place over a long period of time. This task has been described as one "in which the individual selects, sorts through, tries on, discards, reshapes, and ultimately fashions a unique sense of self via self-chosen appropriate integration of those values, beliefs, and goals that feel personally expressive." (Archer, 1990 ).
Due to the complexity of the task of identity formation the individual involved experiences any variety of four developmental statuses. These four statuses are based upon the dimensions of exploration, or examination of alternative identities, and commitment, or stable investment in the present state of one's identity. The four statuses are individually addressed below.
- Lack of exploration of alternatives
- Lack of commitment
- Least sophisticated level of development
- Typically the level at which identity formation is begun
- Do not feel accepted by parents
- Lack exploration of alternatives
- Commitment has been made, but without exploration of alternatives, identity is not attained
- Developmentally unsophisticated level of achievement
- Adopt parents' characteristics
- Active exploration of alternative identities
- Commitment is desired, but it is not yet attained
- Sophisticated level of development
- Individual has explored alternatives.
- Commitment is at a high level
- According to individual's in this status, "The parts of my self feel as though they have finally come together." ( Archer, 1990 ).
- Most developmentally sophisticated status of identity formation.
- Perceive parents as supportive
Parenting Style And Identity Formation
Rita A. Varano
How does my parenting style effect my child's identity formation?
In the context of this essay, parenting styles are categorized according to four common ways that parents choose to raise their children. Parenting style is an important facet of identity formation because it influences an adolescent's ability and willingness to explore various options in life when it comes to establishing one's own occupational, vocational, religious, and sexual identities (Papini, 1994).
What are the different types of parenting styles?
First, neglectful parenting is defined as not taking an active role or interest in a child's life. Neglectful parents are unresponsive and have few or no expectations of their children (Steinberg, 1996).
Next, indulgent parents are extremely responsive to their children, but do not demand much of their children (Steinberg, 1996). Indulgent parents give their children a great deal of freedom without identifying limitations.
Third, authoritarian parents "tend to favor more punitive and absolute discipline measures without give-and-take communication" (Steinberg, 162).
Last, authoritative parenting is most consistent in producing positive adolescent identity formation (Steinberg, 1996). These parents "recognize that the rights of parents and children are reciprocal" (Cole et al., 1993). This type of parenting is especially successful because it helps an adolescent develop autonomy through enhanced communication between parent and child and encourages the need to reinforce authority.
What type of identity formation does my parenting style produce?
Parenting style does have to be appropriated according to a child's behavior. However, some parenting styles are less consistent in helping a child establish positive identity formation. For example, authoritarian parenting typically leads to identity foreclosure, whereas indulgent or neglectful styles lead to identity diffusion (Steinberg, 1996). Authoritative parenting is the most consistent proponent of identity achievement because it is most effective in helping an adolescent acquire the confidence and self-esteem to make changes in life and face challenges.
What are four things I can do to enhance my child's identity formation?
- Be accepting of your child and the differences between you two;
- Clearly define limits to make it clear what will happen when rules are broken;
- Be consistent in enforcing rules to make it clear that "norms" are real and important;
Ethnic Identity Development
Defining Ethnic Identity
In my attempt to define ethnic identity, I favored this definition by Smith: Ethnic identity is the sum total of group member feelings about those values, symbols, and common histories that identify them as a distinct group (Smith 1991). Development of ethnic identity is important because it helps one to come to terms with their ethnic membership as a prominent reference group and significant part of an individuals overall identity. Ethnic reference group refers to an individuals psychological relatedness to groups (Smith 1991). These reference groups help adolescents sense, reflect and see things from the point of their ethnic groups in which they actively participate or seek to participate.
What is ethnic identity?
The establishment of identity is a major developmental task for all adolescents. While it is an important, complex task for all adolescents, it is particularly complicated for adolescents belonging to ethnic and minority groups. Ethnic identity of the majority group of individuals is constantly validated and reinforced in a positive manner where as the minority group is constantly ridiculed and punished in a negative manner. What does this say for those adolescents who are the minority and not the majority? It is important to study or research ethnic identity because it provides better knowledge to help one understand striving for a sense of unity and connectivenesss in which the self provides meaning for direction and meaning of ethnic identity (Spencer, 1990). It is also important to study or research the differences between these groups due to beliefs and values.
Adolescents that are the minority are confronted with their ethnicity at an earlier age then Caucasian adolescents majority and they are constantly aware of ethnic differences, which means it is of greater importance to understand the development of the minority individual. It should lead to different assessments when it comes to ethnic identity. For example, African American adolescents are psychologically compared to Caucasian American adolescence diagnoses, which are sometimes inaccurately assessed. Bronfenberner explains the theoretical perspective such as the ecological perspective by saying, Tthe implications for clinical treatment of African American adolescents, mental health workers must be sensitive to the ecological context of their clients. Mental Health workers must realize that there is no single entity called the black family . The black families compared to the other families established their American family. He suggests that these families vary dramatically in backgrounds, social economic status, values, and degree of acculturation to the norms and values of mainstream America (1990). There are also, significant differences that may exist in preparation of African American adolescent, at the level of rearing family practices and in schools (1990). That is, schools continue to reflect historical values that deal with racial-stereotypes and prejudice and beliefs. At the same time there are families trying to avoid and make light out of such situations. These families and communities continue to show constancy by instilling their own beliefs and values through child rearing which maybe different from Caucasian Americas.
o Smith, Elise J. Ethnic Identity Development: Toward the Development of A Theory within the Context of Majority/Minority Status. Journal of Counseling and Development: JCD. v70. n1. Sept.1991. p. 181-188.
o Spencer, Margaret Beale. Child Development. v61 n2. Apr. 1990. P. 290-310.
Ethnicity and Identity Development
Keila R. Young
Identity and ethnicity as adolescent issues:
Identity has been defined in many ways. It is the concept used to describe an individual's sense of who he or she is (Dashefsky and Shapiro, 1976). Changes in identity occur throughout the life cycle, however, the changes in identity are usually most notable during adolescence. Integrating a positive sense of ethnic identity into one's overall personal identity is an important task of late adolescence (Steinberg, 1996).
Ethnic identity has been defined as the aspect of one's sense of identity concerning ancestry or racial group membership (Steinberg, 1996). Ethnic identity development is an essential human need because it provides a sense of belonging and historical continuity.
Minority children are confronted with their ethnicity at an earlier age than their majority counterparts (Smith, 1991). Parents can help to speed up the early stages of ethnic identity development by taking an active approach to ethnic socialization. Ethnic socialization, according to Steinberg(1996), refers to the process through which parents teach their children about their ethnicity and about the certain experiences they may have with the broader society. Ethnic socialization consists of three themes: 1) understanding one's own culture, 2) getting along in mainstream society, and 3) dealing with racism (Steinberg, 1996).
Possible outcomes of ethnic identity development:
There are four ways to deal with ethnicity (Steinberg, 1996):
o Assimilation--adopting the cultural norms of the majority while rejecting the norms of one's own culture.
o Separation--rejecting the majority culture and associating only with members of one's own culture.
o Marginality--living within majority culture but feeling estranged.
o Biculturalism--maintaining ties to both cultures.
According to Steinberg (1996) many believe that biculturalism is more successful than the other four. With biculturalism minority youth have access to the norms of the majority and minority culture depending on the situation.
o Dashefsky, A. (Eds.). (1976). Ethnic identity in society. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Co.
o Smith, E.J. (1991). Ethnic identity development: Toward the development of a theory within the context of majority/minority status. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 181-187.
o Steinberg, L. (1996). Adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Differences in Male and Female Identity Development
Identity development begins early in life for a child and by age two a child has a firm grasp on whether he is male or female. However, it develops in adolescence when the process becomes more pronounced. The "adolescent is far more self conscious about the changes" taking place in his or her identity (Steinberg, 1996 pg. 320). Research on the formation of identity has been controversial, and has changed in the past decades.
Before 1980, achieving an identity was studied as a separate process for males and females. The research available concentrated on males only or on females only. In other words, each sex was thought to attain an identity differently, and different research methods were used to evaluate identity formation in males and females (Muus, 1996 pg. 73). Males and females were never directly compared in these early studies.
Since 1980, researchers have given more attention to jointly studying both sexes. These recent studies have shown that:
"1. In most traditional domains (e.g. vocational choice, religious beliefs, political ideology), males and females follow a similar pattern of identity status distribution.
2. The timing of identity formation for both sexes appears to be about the same.
3. The personality correlates of each of the identity statuses (e.g. authoritarian, anxiety, concept formation, etc.) tend to be the same for both sexes."
(summarized by Muus, 1996 pg. 73)
Although there are similarities in identity formation, males and females still differ in two categories: autonomy and attachment. For males, identity is focused on separation and autonomy. Female identity is not as focused on separation as it is on attachment, or, in other words, the intimate relationships that they have (Steinberg, 1996.pg. 320).
"Masculinity is defined through separation, while femininity is defined through attachment, male gender identity is threatened by intimacy, while female gender identity is threatened by separation" (Gilligan as cited by Browne, 1987 pg. 77).
Male Identity Development: Autonomy over Attachment
One reason that male identity development is more autonomy based is that a boy's primary caregiver is normally his mother. Therefore, to become more masculine, he is socialized to separate from his mother. "For a boy, the path towards development lies not in the continuation of attachment, but in the separation from the early caregiver, and in the definition of himself as different, masculine, and independent" (Browne, 1987 pg. 77). This socialization of a male to separate from his mother is subtle. A young boy is teased by his peers for holding his mother's hand, or for hugging her in public. It is considered more masculine to play ball with dad, or to help mom weed her garden. Therefore, a boy is subtly told not to be dependent, but to instead be autonomous and to focus on what they can achieve, rather then being intimate. Due to this early independence as a child, a young boy's identity tends to revolve around achievements in activities in the outside world. As a result, a male may have a conflicted response to dependency and intimacy, and instead define himself through his achievements. (Steinberg, 1996 pg. 320)
Female Identity Development: Attachment over Autonomy
Identity development for a young girl is not based as much on autonomy as it is based on attachment. As a boy is made fun of for holding his mother's hand, a girl is not teased for saying she loves her mom, or for holding her mother's hand. For a young girl, it is okay to be dependent upon a mother. Therefore, a young girl is never encouraged to separate from her primary caregiver. This allows a female "to become more invested and more competent at forming intimate relationships" (Steinberg, 1996 pg. 321).
As a result, many girls obtain their identity through attachment relationships, or relationships with intimate partners. This may lead a female to have problems with separation. "Not only are females concerned with their own sense of self, but they are more concerned then males with the impact of their self on significant people in their lives" (Muus 1996, pg. 74). Therefore, for some females, identity and intimacy are fused (Muus 1996 pg. 74).
o Browne, A. (1987). When Battered Women Kill. The Free Press: New York.
o Muus, R. (1996). Theories of Adolescence. McGraw Hill: New York, 73-75.
o Steinberg, L. (1996). Adolescence, 4th Edition. McGraw Hill: New York, 319-321.
Religious Development in Adolescence
by Brian J. Lusky
Adolescence is characterized by many cognitive and social changes, which constitute a transition into adult life. Many factors are associated with and act upon this change. Religion or more generally, religiosity, is an oft-neglected factor (as can be observed by surveying the lack of research available until recently) that weighs upon how adolescents view the world.
Why is religious development important?
o religiosity plays a key factor in the behaviors of young adults, most notably, a negative correlation to several risky behaviors
o 95% of adolescents believe in some sort of deity
This notable permeation of religious thought into adolescent life raises the question: Does spirituality affect development in adolescence? If so, then what is that effect? This paper will explain the effect, if any, religion has and outline some of the most important issues.
This will be accomplished in a four-part framework:
1. the nature of religious experience in adolescence 2. the practical effect religiosity has on risky behaviors and socially venerated personality traits 3. victimization or persecution on the basis of religion among adolescents 4. suggestions for application of research
Religious Development in Adolescence
Ozorak (1989) found that parental influence is the single strongest factor in religious development in adolescence. It has also been found that mothers have a particularly great effect on religious socialization (Donelson, 1999). This effect is still strong, even into adulthood (Ozorak, 1989). Specifically, parents have a particularly strong effect on belief in their children, especially if the parent-child relationship in general is characterized as close. It has been found however, that peers effect the practice of those beliefs just as strongly as parents do, especially in late adolescence, where parental monitoring and control is lessened. Ozorak also found that this is the most common time for a switch in religious affiliation. This may be because the development of more complex cognitive abilities leads to more abstract thought, and “existential experiences”. These developments lead to a time of questioning for the adolescent that could lead either to the solidification of their faith, or a departure from it. It should be noted that it is not clear whether doubt of ones original faith is a cause of change, or simply a result of change. That is, those who switch religious affiliation or retreat from religious belief altogether may be led to doubt their beliefs by exposure to another faith or worldview (which includes the atheistic worldview). Regardless, ones beliefs about religion are an issue every adolescent faces, and family and peer influences both play a part in socializing religiosity, or the lack thereof.
It should be noted up front that religiosity can be an elusive characteristic. It has been difficult to come up with good empirical measures of religiousness, although researchers are becoming more sensitive in how they measure its effect (Donelson, 1999). One important way to research religiousness is to differentiate extrinsic measures of faith, such as attendance, which can be parentally controlled (Donahue, 1995), with intrinsic measures, like strength of belief and reasons for attending, which are governed solely by the individual. There are three ways in which religion has been shown to affect the well being of adolescents:
o Brega and Coleman observed, “Various measures of religiosity…are positively associated with physical health, faith in people, subjective well-being, life satisfaction, happiness, efficacy, mastery, and self-esteem. (225, 1999)”. In general, there is a positive correlation between intrinsic measures and mental and physical well being in adolescents, and human beings in general.
o Lovinger (1999) theorized that adolescents need authority and attachment to authority in order to successfully navigate the transition into adulthood. “The struggle to become adult requires the presence of an important and powerful other with whom the child is connected to engage in that struggle (276).” From her own experiences with adolescents, she observed that in cases where parental involvement or attachment is absent, the idea of God as Father can serve the role of authority figure.
o Researchers have underlined the benefit of social support that organized religion offers (Brega and Coleman, 1999; Donelson, 1999). It has been argued that religious organizations present a positive social environment where people receive appraisal from others with like-minded beliefs and values (Huges and Demon, 1990; Ellison, 1993; Blaine and Crocker, 1995, in , 1999)
There are also several findings that correlate negatively to religious belief:
o Religiosity is associated with lower levels of risky behavior, such as alcohol, drugs, and premarital sexual intercourse. In one study, Donahue observed a negative correlation between religiousness and twelve risky behaviors, including marijuana use, cigarette use, binge drinking, and violence. He also stated in his study that “It has been estimated that religiousness may decrease the probability of intercourse among adolescents as much as 50%.”
o Brega and Coleman cited that “religious involvement…has a negative relationship with suicidality (225, Trovato, 1992, in Brega and Coleman, 1999).”
o Donelson (1999) argued that belonging to a religious organization reduces stress, although this finding has been challenged (Schafer and King, 1990). Ellison argued that students with high levels of religiosity may have lower life stress because of less risky behaviors, and that this would also lead to higher self-esteem (1993, in Brega and Coleman, 1999).
However, the most notable finding is the strength of the influence of religiosity on adolescent behavior. Donahue emphatically wrote, “Religion is credible as a factor that influences well being—stronger than gender in 7 of 12 cases, stronger than single parent status in all but one…it deserves attention as an important explanatory variable in these areas.” It may be that a powerful avenue of affecting adolescent well being is currently going unexplored.
There is practically no research on the topic of victimization in adolescents, especially victimization on the basis of religious affiliation. Although reports of persecution of religious minority groups are not hard to find, studies on the effect it has on an individual or demographics of who is most likely to persecute on the basis of religion are non-existent. Donelson is helpful once again though in providing us with some information. As far as adolescence goes, there is a negative correlation between religious belief and aggression (1999). This study however, was done of a majority white mainstream Christian population, and so reflects only those values. This finding leaves room for an assumption that the stronger an adolescent’s involvement with mainstream Christianity, the less likely he is to be an instigator of victimization. More research in this area is needed.
Donahue (1995) discussed some practical applications for this material, keeping in mind the beneficial effect religiosity has for most adolescents. He made sure that this was clear, as he stated, “When it comes to a wide variety of at risk behaviors that are of concern to people who work with youth, religion works.” He proposed that at school, one night out of the week could be set aside for activities having to do with religious programs. This would be done without scheduling other events, like school sports, which normally take up an adolescent’s free time. He also advised that religious leaders needed to be more visible, present, and active, in the community, and especially in the adolescent culture. Perhaps more church run programs for youth need to be created, and where there are programs, they need to be more attuned to the needs and experiences of adolescent culture. It would be an interesting topic for research to study the effectiveness of different types and styles of religious youth organizations, to see which is most effective. Another idea states that since we know that mothers have a stronger influence on religious development in their children, it might be wise for religious organizations to focus on educating and really involving the women of their congregation. This would be done in hopes that it would effect the religious development and well being of their children. Despite these suggestions, it is worthy to note that since coercing a child into practicing a particular faith (i.e. attending church) has a less strong effect on adolescent behavior (Donahue, 1995), it is difficult to come up with ideas to strengthen a youth’s sense of religious belief via external means.
After reading this research summary, it is my hope that you take four points away with you:
o religion is at least as strong, if not sometimes a stronger factor in influencing adolescent behavior than many of the more common variables used to explain deviance and socially acceptable behaviors.
o no matter where a person ends up in terms of strength of faith, whether devoted or without, adolescence is a key time for the questioning and development of his or her religious belief.
o the nature of bullying and victimization, at least as far as religious affiliation goes, is largely unknown.
o religion must be more readily utilized as an avenue for helping adolescents make the transition into adulthood. Focusing on family, having religious leaders who are more involved in the community, and creating youth programs that are attentive to their experiences are all good places to begin to reach youth and do just that.
o Brega, A. G., & Coleman, L. M. (1999). Effects of religiosity and racial socialization on subjective stigmatization in African-American adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 22 (2), 223-242.
o Donahue, M. J., & Benson, P. L. (1995). Religion and the well being of adolescents. Journal of Social Issues, 51 (2), 145-160.
o Donelson, E. (1999). Psychology of religion and adolescents in the U.S. Journal of Adolescence, 22 (2), 187-204.
o Lovinger, S., Miller, L., & Lovinger, R. (1999). Some clinical applications of religious development in adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 22 (2), 269-277.
o Ozorak, E. (1989). Social and cognitive influences on the development of religious beliefs and commitment in adolescence. Journal for the scientific study of religion, 28 448-463.
o Schafer, W. E., & King, M. (1990). Religiousness and stress among college students. Journal of College Student Development, 31, 336-341.
What Is Self-esteem?
How is self-esteem defined?
Self-esteem is a central component of personality and identity (Clancy and Dollinger, 1993). It is a self-evaluation, or an evaluation of one's self-worth or self-acceptance (Tashakkori, Thompson, Wade, and Valente, 1990). More specifically, self-esteem is confidence in one's ability to think and to cope with the challenges of life and confidence in one's right to be happy (1993).
What determines our self-esteem?
According to the research of Walker and Greene (1986), a positive relationship with one's parents during childhood is particularly important to developing a healthy self-esteem. In fact, several empirical investigations have indicated that parental support, encouragement, and affection are strongly correlated to children's positive self-esteems (1986). However, self-esteem is continually modified or validated throughout the life span by interactions with family and friends (Bohrnstedt and Fisher, 1986). Self-esteem is a direct function of both positive and negative past, present, and future experiences (Tashakkori et al., 1990).
Does self-esteem change in adolescence?
Adolescence is accompanied by intense physical and psychological changes. Because adolescents are confronting experiences about their intellectual qualities, popularity, social skills, and attractiveness, and confronting the biological changes associated with puberty, their self-perceptions have the potential for change (Stein, Newcomb, and Bentler, 1992). According to Harper and Marshall (1991), it is common for self-esteem to temporarily decline in early adolescence. However, the temporary decline of adolescent self-esteem is not inevitable. In fact, in some cases, self-esteem remains stable or even increases during early adolescence (Tashakkori et al., 1990).
What gender differences exist in adolescent self-esteem?
Although self-esteem has a tendency to fall for both sexes of teenagers, a number of studies have found that adolescent girls have lower self-esteem than adolescent boys (Harper and Marshall, 1991). In a survey by the American Association of University Women, only 29% of the adolescent girls surveyed expressed self-satisfaction, while more than half of the boys felt good about themselves. According to Harper and Marshall (1991), society tends to promote masculine over feminine attributes. Therefore, a reasonable explanation for these findings has been that they reflect the way boys and girls learn to view the world and their place in it (Folkenberg, 1991).
Is adolescent self-esteem important?
According to Harper and Marshall (1991), adolescents who admit to experiencing more serious problems tend to have poor self-esteem. In fact, low adolescent self-esteem is associated with a host of problems including drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression, and suicide (1991). Therefore, a positive self-esteem is indispensable to normal and healthy adolescent development because it provides resistance, strength, and a capacity for regeneration (Branden, 1992)
How Does Body Image Affect Self-Esteem?
Definition of self-esteem:
Self-esteem is the positive or negative way in which one evaluates one's values, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs, fears and desires, and strengths and weaknesses (Burger,1993).
Definition of Body Image:
Body image is the "picture of our own body which we form in our mind. In other words, the way in which the body appears to ourselves"(Bruch,1973).
What happens to self-esteem during adolescence?(Owens,1995)
o adolescents begin to evaluate themselves more on inner thoughts and feelings (ex:their relationship with others, personality traits)
o the self is seen less as a perceptual object (dependent on observable traits) and more as a conceptual object (dependent on feelings)
o a more abstract psychological evaluation occurs, rather than a concrete, physical, evaluation
o adolescents begin to feel they know themselves better than others know them
How does body image develop?
o With the development of a body image, adolescents start to think of themselves as separate from their bodies.
o Body image develops during early infancy.
o Through gradual learning, the infant recognizes him/herself as someone unique in the environment.
o As one grows, especially between the ages of 9-11, the concept of understanding the structure and function of one's body increases.
o >From adolescence until death, the person begins to see his/her body image as a physical entity that is separate from their being as a whole.
What may poor body image lead to and how does it affect self-esteem?
Physical distortions that result from a poor body image include:
o a pathological fear of getting fat
o preoccupation with food
o an abnormal eating behavior ranging from dieting and fasting to bingeing and vomiting (Steinhausen, 1995)
Psychological distortions that result from a poor body image include:
o as one's body image changes, one's self-esteem also changes
o negative feelings about body image leads to anxiety about one's body, one's self, and one's life
How do male and females adolescents differ with their perceptions of body image?
o girls tend to be pressured into thinking they have to be thin
o boys often want to think of themselves as muscular and tall
o one out of every 350 adolescents has an eating disorder
o males with poor body image exhibit feelings of inadequacy, high need for autonomy, low sense of control, low self-assurance
o girls with negative body image worry that they are not physically normal, they are unstable, have low problem-solving ability and a low sense of personal efficacy (Owens, 1995).
How can adolescents learn to accept their bodies?(Owens, 1995)
Self -esteem increases when an adolescent accepts and feels comfortable with their body image. Ways to increase feelings about one's body include:
o cleanliness and good grooming
o clothes according to current style
o proper and straight posture
What can parents do to help their child develop a positive body image? (Valette,1988)
o be an authoritative parent, provide warmth and leadership, not dictatorship
o be supportive and encourage honesty
o work out differences together
o teach the adolescent that conflict can be resolved without destroying a relationship
o help the adolescent take increasing responsibility for themselves
For further information:
Bermudez J.L., Eilan N., & Marcel,A.(1995). The Body and the Self. Cambridge, MA.:A Bradford Book, MIT Press
Graham,B.(1997,February). Affirmative Eating. Self Magazine, 113-119.
Links to Information About Eating Disorders
How Does Self-esteem Influence Depression?
Self-esteem is an important factor in an adolescents life. It indirectly effects the way he or she thinks and feel about him or her self. Having low self-esteem may have negative results such as depression which could even lead to suicide. In order to understand how these issues are related, we need to examine these terms closer.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is viewed as a person's evaluation of all the things that he or she uses to describe him or her self (Pope, McHale & Craighead, 1988). For example, an adolescent who describes him or her self as an average athlete may feel that he or she needs to be a superior athlete in order to be popular. This person has a low self-esteem because he or she is not measuring up to his or her own evaluations. If this person had high self-esteem, he or she would accept the fact that they are average in athletics and this would be fine in their mind. Since low self-esteem has negative results for adolescents it is necessary to understand the characteristics of low self-esteem. They are as follows:
o withdrawl (Pope, McHale & Craighead, 1988)
How does this relate to depression?
Self-esteem is usually formed during childhood. It does not begin to effect a person until adolescence because of the presence of improved cognitive skills (Overholser et al., 1995) which allows an adolescent to evaluate his or her self critically. Adolescents also tend to focus mostly on themselves at this time. This increased self-awareness may lead a person to evaluate him or her self negatively resulting in depression. Research has shown that adolescents with low self-esteem are more likely to be depressed (Overholser et al., 1995; Devine, Kempton and Forehand, 1994; Reinherz et al., 1993). Some symptoms of depression are as follows:
o low self-esteem
o general somber mood (Harter, 1992)
Because all of these factors are related, self-esteem and depression are usually observed in cycles (Harter, 1992). The cycle begins with low self-esteem which leads to depression and this can lead to suicide.
Is a child you know at risk?
It's a hard task to determine which child is at risk and which one is not. The most accurate way to assess self-esteem is professionally (Pope, McHale and Craighead, 1988). Negative behavior and family conflict are just a few things to look out for. The most important thing you can do for any child you know is to provide a support system for them with plenty of encouragement and love to help show them they are important.
For additional information:
o Harper, J. and Marshall, E. (1991). Adolescent's problems and their relationship to self- esteem. Adolescence, 26, 799-808.
o Pfeffer, C.R. (1988). Risk factors associated with youth suicide: A clinical perspective. Psychiatric Annals, 18, 652-656.
What Are the Effects of the Early Onset of Puberty on Females Self-esteem?
The onset of puberty has been occurring earlier and earlier in the past century. This may be due to better health care and nutrition. Lowered self esteem had been discussed as an outcome of the early adolescent experience for years by researchers. Early maturing females, identified by menarche occurring before 12.5 years of age, may be especially vulnerable to this decline in self-esteem (Ge, Conger, and Elder, 1996). This decline can be caused by many factors affecting the adolescents' lives that are due to their changing status into adulthood.
Self-image becomes especially important at the time of menarche for practically all adolescents. They may tend to judge their self-worth by they way they see themselves. Many adolescent females tend to view their bodies negatively due to the changing shape structure and distribution of body fat. Early maturing females have been found to have the most negative body image when compared with others their age at the time of menarche (Silbereisen, Peterson, Albrecht, and Kracke, 1989). This heightened negative image may be due to the adolescents more advanced appearance relative to their classmates.
Due to these appearance differences, early maturing females may suffer rejection by peers (Silbereisen et al., 1989). These females are in the minority in regard to physical appearance, which can lead to being viewed as odd and not fit in with the others. If rejection occurs, these females have a smaller social network of same age peers to look to for support. Instead of withdrawing from social contact, many females in a situation of this type begin to seek an older, more mature group of friends (Lackovic-Grgin, Dekovic, and Opacic, 1994). The accumulation of older peers may lead these females to be more vulnerable to deviant behaviors and sexual pressures practiced by their new crowd. Silbereisen et al. (1989) has stated that the practice of what would be viewed as problem behavior for these females may actually represent an attempt to match their behaviors with their physical appearance regardless of chronological age. While their behaviors may seem inappropriate for their age, these females may just be trying to fit in with others who are as physically mature as they are.
Exposure to these deviant behaviors and pressures at an earlier age than on time and late maturing females may be very detrimental to the early maturing females' identity and self-esteem. Ge et al. (1996) has theorized that early maturing females may not have had the time to complete the necessary childhood developmental tasks before being moved into the adolescent stage by the onset of menarche. They have had less time to form a solid sense of self, which could cause difficulty in making wise present decisions as well as decisions for the future.
Early onset of puberty has many effects on the body as well as the social context. Females need to be taught to be understanding toward the changes in their bodies as well as those of their peers. Self-esteem may be increased during this time of change if they are taught that the changes are normal and will happen to everyone, just at different times. If this understanding was reached, the social context of the early maturing females may not change as drastically as it is occurring at the present.
o Ge, X., Conger, R. D., & Elder, G. H. (1996). Coming of Age Too Early: Pubertal Influences on Girls' Vulnerability to Psychological Distress. Child Development, 67, 3386-3400.
o Lackovic-Grgin, K., Dekovic, M., & Opacic, G. (1994). Pubertal Status, Interaction With Significant Others, and Self-Esteem of Adolescent Girls. Adolescence, 29(115), 691-700.
o Silbereisen, R. K., Peterson, A. C., Albrecht, H. T., & Kracke, B. (1989). Maturational Timing and the Development of Problem Behavior: Longitudinal Studies in Adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 9(3), 247-268.
To Read Further . . .
o Branden, N. (1992). The Power of Self-Esteem. Florida: Health Communications, Inc.
o Folkenberg, Judy. Girls' Self-Esteem Plummets in Teen Years. American Health, 97.
o Harper, J.F. and Marshall, E. Adolescents' Problems and Their Relationship to Self-Esteem. Adolescence, 26, 799-807.
o Stein, J.A., Newcomb, M.D., and Bentler, P.M. The Effect of Agency and Communality on Self-Esteem: Gender Differences in Longitudinal Data. Sex Roles, 26, 465-480.
o Tashakkori, A., Thompson, V.D., Wade, J., and Valente, E. Structure and Stability of Self-Esteem in Late Teens. Personality Individual Differences, 11, 885-893.
o Walker, L.S. and Greene, J.W. The Social Context of Adolescent Self-Esteem. Journalof Youth and Adolescence, 15, 315-321.
About Parenting Style and Identity Formation
o Cole, Michael and Sheila R. (1993). The Development of Children, 404-405, 559, 574
o Papini, Dennis R. (1994). Family Interventions: Interventions for adolescent Identity Development, 47-59
o Steinberg, Laurence. (1996). Adolescence, 161-164, 310-316
About Body Image and Self-Esteem
o Bruch,H.(1973). Eating Disorders. New York:Basic Books Inc.
o 2)Burger,W.R., Schmolling P., & Youkeles M.(1993). Human Services in Contemporary America (3rd ed.). California:Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.,p.156
o Owens,K.O. (1995). Raising Your Child's Inner Self-Esteem. New York:Plenum Press.
o Steinhausen H.C. (1995). Eating Disorders in Adolescence. New York: Walter de Gruyter and Co.
o Tiemersma D.(1989). Body Schema and Body Image. Lisse;Amsterdam. Swets and Zeitlinger B.V.
o Valette, B. (1988). A Parent's Guide to Eating Disorders. New York:Walker Publishing Co.
About Self-Esteem and Depression
o Devine, D., Kempton, T. and Forehand, R. (1994). Adolescent depressed mood and young adult functioning: A longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology,22, 629-639.
o Harter, S. (1992). Nebraska symposium on motivation: Developmental perspectives on motivation. Current theory and research in motivation, 40. (Janis E. Jacobs, Ed.), 99-144.
o Overholser, J.C., Adams, D.M., Lehnhert, K.L., and Brinkman, D.C. (1995). Self-esteem deficits and suicidal tendencies among adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, (7)34, 919-927.
o Pope, A.W., McHale, S.M. and Craighead, W.E. (1988). Self-esteem enhancement with children and adolescents. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.
o Reinherz, H.Z., Giaconia, R.M., Pakiz, B., Silverman, A.B., Frost, A.K. and Lefkowitz, E.S. (1993). Psychosocial risks for major depression in late adolescence: A longitudinal community study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, (6) 32, 1155-1162.