Am I Ugly? Positive Steps to Overcome Teens’ Negativity
Living in a society that worships the virtues of outward beauty can be difficult for the proverbial ugly duckling or “plain Jane.” Most people come to terms with their appearance as they reach adulthood, making the best of what they have. Tweens and teens, however, often have a more difficult time in accepting their looks, especially if they feel they don’t measure up or compare to their peers.
As a parent, you may have had your son or daughter ask you “Am I ugly?” at some point in time. Most kids are not really ugly; however, they may have more plain features than their siblings or friends, giving them the impression that they don’t measure up, lowering their self-esteem. As a parent, you can begin early to help your child feel accepted and loved regardless of his looks. Your love and acceptance will go a long ways towards helping your kids feel happy and secure just the way they are.
Effects of Social Media on Self-Esteem
Today’s youth are products of the technological advances of our age. Through social networking, young people can connect with each other and the rest of the world at the blink of an eye. In some ways, this can be a positive in a young person’s life. Social networking enables young people to socialize with their peers, communicate with friends, share thoughts and ideas and receive the same.
On the flip side, social networking has also been used in a negative way to bully and intimidate young people. Social media gives young people a forum for posting their photos or videos for their friends to see. Posting selfies and other photos, however, puts tweens and teens at risk of receiving negative remarks like “ugly girl”, “ugly person,” or “why are you so ugly?” from bullies or people they don’t even know.
Because society places so much emphasis on outward looks and beauty, teens are more susceptible to gauge their acceptance and popularity by their physical looks. Every day kids are bombarded with pictures of beautiful people on TV or online, giving the impression that outward beauty is the key to a great life. The media has done a great job of giving kids the wrong impression of what beauty is all about.
Most kids will never attain to the media’s fantasy idea of beauty and the good life. Yet they continue to compare themselves with what they see and wonder to themselves “am I ugly?” or “why am I so ugly?” They may even go so far as to take an “am I ugly quiz” online just to see how they compare to their peers.
A young person’s perception of himself will affect his self-esteem. Children who feel that they are ugly, stupid or fat or have other negative traits will have lower self-esteem. Such factors as moving to a new city, changing schools, divorce or death in the family can cause a child to lose confidence. With love and support from family and friends, kids learn to accept these changes and regain their footing in life.
Kids who are constantly battling with lack of confidence, poor self-image or feelings of not being good enough may need help in bolstering their self-esteem. The following are a few ways in which parents can help in this endeavor:
- Assure your kids of your unconditional love and acceptance
- Praise them for qualities that make them unique
- Help them develop their talents and skills
- Believe in them as a person
- Display a positive attitude that they can handle responsibilities
- Praise their successes
- Encourage them to accept new challenges
- Support their decisions whenever possible
- Accept their mistakes as part of life and encourage them to try again
- Acknowledge their viewpoints and feelings, even if you don’t agree with them
- Allow them to express their individuality
Dangers of Teen Depression
Most all teens go through phases where they may feel “I’m ugly”, “I can never do anything right” or “I’m just not good enough.” It’s normal for teens to feel like they are riding an emotional roller coaster, on top of the world one day and at the bottom the next. Most of these feelings are temporal and match what’s happening in a teen’s life at the time.
When negative thoughts or feelings set in with no respite in sight, however, it could be a sign of depression. Teen depression is more common than people think. Although it may affect teens in different ways, there are common symptoms that parents of teens should be aware of. These include:
- Feelings of anger, sadness, guilt or hopelessness that won’t go away
- Loss of vision or interest in life
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Physical ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, etc. without a cause
- Crying at the drop of a hat
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Loss of focus and concentration
- Thoughts of Suicide
Most teens don’t “plan” on becoming depressed nor is it their fault. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step towards getting help to pull out of this state and regain control of their emotions. Teens who feel themselves falling into depression should take time to communicate their feelings with someone they trust. Staying connected with loved ones is an essential step towards overcoming depression and moving on. Family and friends can help teens get a better perspective of their situation and make positive choices towards their future.
Teaching Kids Resiliency
As a parent, you can’t shelter your kids from all outside influences that would cause them harm. However, you can teach them to be resilient against the negative influences they encounter and make good choices in their lives. Resiliency can be broken down into four categories:
- Emotional skills
- Competence and
Children need strong supportive relationships in their lives to help them grow into competent, well-adjusted adults. A solid parent-child relationship can help carry children through any hardship. A good relationship with siblings and other relatives will also contribute to a child’s inner strength.
Children are naturally closer to their parents when they are young. As your kids grow into tweens and teens, you will need to make a greater effort to stay connected and keep the relationship strong. Tweens and teens need to feel confident in their family’s love and support. When they’re tempted to feel incapable, worthless or ugly due to negative peer pressure or difficulties at school, your love and support can help them remain confident and strong.
As a child reaches tween and teen age, they tend to be led more by their emotions than rational thought. By learning emotional skills, kids can keep their emotions in check when making difficult choices. Kids who develop their emotional skills will be able to:
- calm themselves down
- think positively about themselves
- communicate their feelings to others
- cultivate a good sense of humor
- accept challenges with an optimistic viewpoint
- make rational choices
Parents can help their kids develop emotional skills by encouraging them to communicate their thoughts and feelings and listening and respecting their points of view. The best place for kids to learn how to assert themselves is in the home where parents can temper their assertiveness with courtesy and respect.
Teaching kids to become competent in their abilities and skills will give them greater control over their lives. Competence helps children grow in confidence and self-esteem. Kids don’t have much control over their physical characteristics; however, they can develop their talents and skills to boost their confidence and self-worth.
Optimism and a positive outlook are important aspects of resiliency. Teens who are optimistic about their future look forward to what life has to offer. They have confidence in their upbringing, education, experiences and abilities to help them make progress in their lives. Whether they enter college after graduation or enter the workforce, optimism will help young people face the challenges of their future.
Teach Your Kids Inner Beauty
The experiences children go through in their lives helps to shape their character. Character traits such as honesty, integrity, kindness and generosity contribute to a person’s inner beauty. Rather than focus on superficial outward beauty that decays with time, parents should help their kids develop inner beauty that will endure the test of time. Inner beauty is true beauty and what will define your child’s life.