The power of self-esteem

Originally published in the Kenosha News

By Vickie Leflore, Youth Development Extension Educator

Webster’s Dictionary definition of self-esteem is having confidence or satisfaction with oneself.

Having a positive outlook of oneself is critical to one’s growth and development.

Raising youth who feel confident about themselves will have a lasting lifelong impact.

Developing a positive self-concept as a young person will fuel evolving into a healthy adult.

Research has shown over time there is a decrease in self-esteem with age progression.

In the transition from elementary, middle and finally high school, youth tend to lose self-confidence.

This may be attributed to a shift in focus: Once a student enters middle school. a great deal of emphasis is on grades and competing with other students in the class. Students become more self-aware throughout this transition.

According to a report, “Students with a low sense of belonging may feel alienated at school, which in turn may cause poor achievement, and their eventually dropping out of school” (Cueto et al., 2010).

Youth start to develop more advanced thinking and personal habits during their adolescence years.

Positive youth-adult interactions are imperative to building healthy adults and increasing confidence in youth. Adults are key to providing guidance and support to youth to assist them with a successful transition into adulthood.

Young people with a good sense of self-worth typically are proud of who they are and believe in who they are becoming.

Ways to improve self-esteem:

Surround yourself with the right people. Having people that provide authentic support and guidance is key. Find value in those who are honest with you when you are right and advise you when you are wrong.

Positive self talk. The voice in your head is the most powerful voice to who you are and who you want to become. Recite positive affirmations on a daily basis or watch inspirational videos that motivate you.

Practice self care. Take time to do things you enjoy. As often as possible do something that makes you smile.

Establish time for self-reflection. Whether daily or weekly take time to reflect on your thoughts and daily activities.

It’s your story. You write your own narrative. Everyone is different and will have different experiences; it’s your choice in how you respond to life experiences.

Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes; mistakes are a part of the process of growth. Be proud of giving your best, even if you don’t achieve the desired results.

Celebrate you. Celebrate all of your accomplishments no matter how big or small.

Try something new. Step outside of your comfort zone; take the time to explore and try something new.

No comparisons. Comparing yourself to others can be damaging to your self-worth.

Learn to say no. Sometimes life can be so busy, and learning to balance is important. Do not fall victim to the fear of missing out.

Nurturing positive self-esteem in youth influences all aspects of youth development. which has a lasting bearing on growing into a healthy adult.

To find out more about programs through UW-Extension and various opportunities, browse our website at https://kenosha.uwex.edu/youth-development/.