Jul 29, 2014

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Boosting Self-Esteem in Latina Teens

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 Latina Teens' Self Confidence

How many women do you know have struggled with their self-esteem? I happen to know a significant amount of women who have from time to time, including myself.  In 2011, researchers for the Dove Self-Esteem Project found that more than 54% of women agree that they are their own worst beauty critic. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a woman with low self-esteem, most women can identify with at least time periods of doubting their self-esteem. This can include underestimating your potential at work, not thinking you’re just as good as other female counterparts, or even criticizing your body from time to time.

Self-Esteem Development During Adolescence

Self-esteem is developed during childhood and redefined during adolescence.  Adolescence can be a pretty difficult period in an individual’s life. Witnessing your body change right before your eyes can be scary and confusing. During adolescence, teens are particularly aware of what their peers think of them and have an increase need to fit in. As a result, teen girls may become preoccupied with their weight and their physical appearance.

The mainstream media also plays a big role in the lives of young girls worldwide, as girls usually want to look like the celebrities they admire and see on television. The internet, magazines, and music  often portray women in a sexual manner that young girls may not even understand. As a result, teen girls adopt a distorted understanding of what sexiness means at an early age.

A 2007 report by the American Psychological Association Task Force explains it well:

The sexualization of girls in all forms of media is a “broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development”.

Latina teens in the U.S. are not exempt from self-esteem issues and are actually more likely to suffer from lower self-esteem than their non-Latina counterparts. Bicultural Latina teens may experience anxiety or confusion about how to appropriately identify with one of the cultures. For instance, some young Latinas struggle with wanting to keep their curves while simultaneously feeling pressured to be skinny by mainstream American standards.

Tips for Parents Raising Latina Teens:

Parents can help their daughters grow into strong self-confident women.

Girls first start to develop their sense of self within their family. That being said, parents should avoid  praising their daughters for their appearances alone. Try praising your teen for her academic and personal accomplishments, as well. Teenage girls should be well-rounded individuals who focus on every aspect of their lives, not just their beauty.

A tip for moms: Be a positive role model. It will be very hard to help your daughter develop a healthy self-esteem if you are not exhibiting the same behavior. Be a mom who demonstrates good habits through her own actions!

A tip for dads: Be involved! Do not assume that because you have a teenage daughter, you cannot identify. You don’t need to be a female to be a positive role model for your daughter. Support and feedback from her old man can do so much good in a young woman’s life.

Parents need to be involved in their teenage daughter’s life to help develop a sense of security inside and outside of the home.

How do you support your teen’s self-esteem? Share your advice in the comment section below!

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Minerva Guerrero

Minerva Guerrero

Minerva Guerrero is a graduate of The City College of New York, with a BA in psychology and an MA in Mental Health Counseling. She works in an outpatient clinic in New York as a mental health counselor where she works with individuals, couples and families. She primarily enjoys working with women, helping empower them to be the best version of themselves. When not conducting therapy, you can catch her teaching at City College and freelance writing on a wide variety of topics that include relationship issues, emotional well-being, women's issues, and self-help topics.

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