Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our Girls: Low Self-Esteem And Boys

Never one to shy away from controversial issues, I wanted to speak about a pervasive issue occurring in our nation: Low self-esteem and young girls. This article is fueled by a risqué conversation that I had with two students this week. Both girls, beautiful and intelligent, came to the office because they were ready to fight….over a boy.

You could cut the tension in the room with a spoon as both girls glared at each other. The School Counselor and I proceeded to mediate the conflict by addressing a note that one of the girls had presented to us. Buried in the page long note was the following quote…

“…She’s telling people that she had 3 babies by [her boyfriend], and that the only reason she’s going out with [him] is because she wants to give him head…”

Sigh…Did I forget to mention that these students are in the 5th grade?

One of the girls kept repeating “She’s just jealous because I’m going with [him]!” After the third time, I had definitely had enough. “You seem awfully proud of this,” I said. “Why is that so important to you that you feel the need to stress it over and over again?” Caught off guard, she looked down and shrugged. But I could tell that I had struck a nerve.

Why is it that at such a young age, girls are already associating their self-worth with whether or not they are liked by boys? I refuse to believe that this is an innate trait fueled by estrogen or progesterone. It’s clearly a learned behavior. But, from where?

According to national research of girls in the United States, fourth grade is the peak year for girls' self-esteem. Reportedly, nine-year-old girls feel great about themselves. However, by fifth grade things appear to change drastically. According to Anita Gurian of the New York University Child Study Center, girls' self-esteem plummets just before Middle School. "Starting in the pre-teen years, there is a shift in focus; the body becomes an all consuming passion and barometer of worth."

A 2007 task force report by the American Psychological Association concluded that girls start viewing their worth as associated with sex appeal at a very young age. They become passive, self-conscious, image-obsessed, and depressed. Reportedly, age ten is when girls start trying to look like the models they see in ads.

Despite the statistics and the various research studies, I believe that it is possible to change the trend. However, in order to help our girls, we must first look hard at ourselves. Let’s be honest for a sec…how many of us find our self-worth in what others think of us...specifically men? Do we believe that we are beautiful...or do we need to hear it from someone else?  Are we ok with being alone...or do we need to be in a relationship?  You get where I'm going! 

Take a minute or two and complete this confidential online assessment for insight about how strong your self-esteem is.  As they state on the website, the quiz is designed to evaluate your general level of self-esteem and determine whether you need to work on your self-image.



Remember…what you think of yourself more than likely mirrors your daughter’s thoughts as well.

Happy Parenting,

...An honest and realistic blog about things that matter most...families and children!

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