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Self Esteem Interventions for Adolescents

Info: 2457 words (10 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 11th Feb 2020

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‘’You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could & should do for themselves’’

Abraham Lincoln

Adolescence is retrieved from Latin word ‘‘adolescere’’ which means ‘’to grow up’’. Total of 1.2 billion adolescents pass across the period between childhood and the adulthood around the world. Knowledge and Proficiency captured by adolescents have valuable implications for their growth. (Mary.C.Townsend,2010)

Age group of adolescents is defined by many programmes. According to WHO, adolescence is defined as the period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood from the ages of 10 to19. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of human development, an adolescent’s age group between 13-19 years, Draft Youth Policy defined as the age group between 13-19 years; ICDS programme considered the age group of adolescent is 11-18 years; Internationally, the age group of adolescent is 10-19 years. (Carol, Bf,2000)

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UNICEF categorizes adolescence period in three levels: early adolescents (10-13 years of age), middle adolescents(14-16), late adolescents (17-19). It is a hassle period packed with major variations in physical growth, sexuality, cognitions, emotions and relate with others. It is a period of unearthing of self and relate to the world around the individual. (Stanton, B.F)

The sudden and rapid physical changes that occur to make adolescents to aware of oneself, very sensitive and concern about their body changes. It makes the adolescent to feel inferior while compared with others. It causes the adolescents have Self hatredness and negative feelings about themselves. The alternative component for self hatredness is self confidence or self esteem. (Nangle, D.W,1993)

Adolescent’s psychological well being & self esteem can be interpreted as indicators of adaptive positive emotion is need for continuous developmental process in their life. Self Concept, Self Identity, Self Esteem & Assertiveness are important developmental tasks for adolescents & these are related to successful emotional regulation & absence of psychological distress. If these indicators are diminished among adolescents means it will end up with psychological problems like depression, suicide, alcohol & drug abuse. ( Zaff, et al., 2007).

Self esteem is the confidence in one’s own worth or abilities and self confidence is a feeling of trust in their abilities. Appropriate level of self-esteem insists the individual to feel honourable, enjoying their efforts and independently express their desires (NASE, 2010). But self esteem changes can occur periodically. Self esteem level is declined at the age of 8-10 yrs. Self-esteem embraces the person’s beliefs and emotions such as triumph, pride & shame. It refers to the extent to which an individual value themselves and has long been identified as an important predictor of adjustment to stress (Lauren,2012).

There are many reason adolescents might have low self-esteem such as doing poorly at school, problems with parents or friends & emotional changes. It can lead a adolescents to engage in reckless activities and antisocial behaviours including Drug Abuse, Eating Disorder , Depression, Conduct Disorder, Aggression & Suicide. Low-self-esteem is also associated with feelings of being shy, worthlessness, inept, futile, fragile and defective in nature. So they are affected by negative attitude and decline to recognize their potential, fear about criticism and take compliments negatively and are afraid to take up their own responsibilities and fear of expressing their own opinion. (Coopersmith.S, 2005)

(Gibby and Gibby, 1967) shows that the adolescents have the feeling of worthless means, it can end up with depressing features and depression generally inhibits the student’s academic performance. As stated by Deborah L. Downs (1999) “People who feel worthy, able and competent are more likely to achieve their goals than those who feel worthless, impotent and incompetent’’. It also reveals that academic gain increases the level of self-esteem among adolescents. So the students level of self esteem will enhance successful academic achievement. Similarly, poor academic performance will decrease the adolescent’s self-esteem.

So many problems are common among adolescent’s period. Many interventions are used to improve the adolescents well being & self esteem. One of the intervention is assertiveness training. Assertiveness is an ability to express openly and directly, Judging their feelings and pinpointing their strengths and weakness & give respect to self and others.Assertiveness comprises a multilateral aspects of human expression including behaviour, cognition, and affect. Behaviourally assertive persons are able to express their emotions, foster their goal and built favourable interpersonal relationships & aptly handle with both positive and negative emotional feelings. (Richard,F.R, 2008)

Assertiveness Skill consists of ability to perform compatible and positive behaviour, make people to deal more efficiently with regular needs and tasks. The above skills contribute to development of adolescent’s mental health as well as physical health when encounter with realities of life and empowering them to perform beneficial activities for protecting self. (Fodor,I.G.1992)

Assertiveness Skills include – Assertive communication, interpersonal skill, self-conscious, emotional stability and coping skills. It is a solution for socio-psychological problems in a community like substance abuse, domestic and social violence, child abuse, and suicide. It equips the individual to manage anger, aggressiveness, disappointment and step to forward to achieve their personal goals without damage to others’ right. (Feti et al, 2006)

Assertiveness training is intended to assist the individual to change their self image, improve individual’s assertive behaviour , convey the individual’s appropriate emotions and to build self- confidence. The use of this training is to enhance adolescent’s self concept, lowered self-abasement and improved self esteem. Positive consequences of this training among students are to increase self- possession, liberty and rationality especially in the areas of personal and psychological health as well as sociable behaviours. (Jayne, et al 1983)

Assertiveness training programmes are designed to increase an individual’s assertive behaviour and self esteem. It helps an individual to modify their negative view of oneself and also establish their self confidence. It is not a restorative practice, even though it aids to teach an individual on how to assert themselves despite the coercion and burden exist from the world. ( Stack,C& Deville,J. 1983)

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Taylor et al., (2002) have explored that interconnection between assertiveness, self esteem and mental health among adolescence and have establish certain factors which impact assertive behaviour and self esteem. The factors are culture, self-esteem, psychological distress , depression, risk behaviour and gender. It also reveals that boys are having increased level of self esteem, assertiveness & independency when compared to girls.


The world population trends 2012 reveals that world’s adolescent population is 7.06 billion. India has the largest population of adolescents around the world. Current PopulationofIndiain 2012 is estimated to be 1.22 billion. Out of which 243 million individuals are in the age group of 10-19 years (UNICEF, 2012). Children may undergone decline in self esteem during teenage period which is a critical transition period for adolescents. Self esteem level is declined at the age of 8-10 yrs. Girls experience this decline in the age of group 12yrs whereas in teen boys, the decline of self esteem usually embark on the age of 14. Adolescents with high self-esteem consider themselves as desirable and equal to other peers. Those who have low level of self esteem persistently experiences self-rejection, self-dissatisfaction and loathing for oneself. (Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, 2007)

International Journal of Research & Development of Health estimated about the common adolescent problems related to low self esteem. It describes as follows:

    • Fear and concern about future career 85.6%
    • Lack of concentration 46.7%
    • Not getting good marks 24.2%
    • Parents are interpreted in career choice 23.4%
  • Anxiety 44.3%
  • Depression 26.4%
  • Excess concern about physical appearance/IQ19.3%
  • Day dreaming 23.2%
  • Suicidal thoughts 10.3%

National Report on State of Self-Esteem, explained that low self-esteem is a major impact on adolescent’s life & it invades every aspect of human’s life including self image, performance in school and establish rapport with friends and family members. 75% of teen girls with low level of self-esteem narrated that they are engaged in negative activities such as intimidation, smoking, or alcohol abuse when feeling negative view about themselves. 25% of young girls with low level of self esteem engaged in risky behaviour such as injuring themselves , bullying and disordered eating.

Most of the research studies proved that there is a significant increase (72%) of body dysmorphia disorder among teenage boys. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychological problem, in which the affected individual is excessively worried about their physical structure. Adolescent boys may prone to over exercising, binge eating, eating disorder (anorexia nervosa & bulimia) and drug abuse. It is described that about 45% of adolescents in western countries are unhappy with their physical structure. (Webster,H.M,1999)

Covington (1989) reported that adolescent girl’s self-esteem is lower than that of boys, and adolescence has been identified as a problematic period for low self-esteem & also he concluded that there is a positive relationship exist between self esteem achievement score. Low self-esteem can be improved through many ways and that instruction can lead to better academic achievement. So adolescent’s efficiency to achieve personal goals have been found to have a major influencing factor on academic achievement.

Low self-esteem can be a foremost endangering factor in psychological and emotional health problems such as suicide, depression, substance abuse, violent behaviour & inappropriate social behaviours include arguing, defiant, or being brutal to others and being stubborn or irritable. One of the main factor in teen promiscuity is self-esteem. ( Beverley,K.M & Donna,R.W , 1996 )

When a adolescent has little or no self-confidence means the adolescents may use sex as a complimenting factor to improve their self confidence. Around one million adolescent girls become pregnant per year throughout the world. Low self-esteem is a precursor to involve in premarital sexual relationships & it’s sensible for youngster’s pregnancy. It concluded that self-esteem decreases, attitude towards sex become more permissive. These above mentioned factors may be a alternative indicators of low level of self esteem, meanwhile they represent distressed emotional and mental health. (Chris,H.2010)

So Adolescent period is a critical period to have low self esteem & negative emotions about themselves. There are so many interventions were formulated to increase self esteem among adolescents. Assertiveness training is one of the skill to modify self hatredness , negative emotions & low self esteem. (Michel, F.2008)

Assertiveness training assists the individual to achieve fulfilment without exploit the rights of others. As a result, it is more convenient to help the students to enroll assertive behaviour and also it helps the students to face problems or criticism during their life. Assertiveness is a tool for expressing their opinion confidently and a way of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in a pertinent way. An assertive individual impacts, pay attention, confers and express their opinion, willingness and desires without violating the rights of others.( Erogul, C.R, 2009)

Assertiveness training can be an effective part of treatment for many conditions, such as Depression, Social Phobia, Stress, Violent behavior and Substance Abuse. Assertiveness training can also improve the person’s interpersonal skills and increased sense of self-respect. It is conceptualized as a highly structured behavioural component that promote the replacement of inhibiting behaviour with socially appropriate, expressive, and outgoing behaviour. The basic assumption is that every adolescent crews their basic human rights and the aim of the assertiveness training is to instruct the individual to raise up for their rights without encroaching the rights of others. (Power,F.C.2009)

It helps the adolescents to,

  • Formulate guidelines for improving assertive behavior.
  • Improve awareness about their emotional feelings to other people’s behavior.
  • Give direction to handle the aggressive behavior.
  • Increase an efficiency to get their point across effectively whilst improve an understanding of other’s feelings. ( Cambell,N.2006 )

The student researcher personally experienced many adolescent girls and boys having problems of low self esteem during her Life Skill Training Programme. For this reason, the student researcher conducts this study among adolescents and implements assertiveness training for improving their assertive behavior and level of self esteem


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