Resource: American Academy of Pediatrics

Monthly Resources – May 2023
Published April 25, 2023

American Pediatrics: Self-Esteem and Mental Health in Youth

Building Blocks for Health Self Esteem in Kids

Building Blocks for Healthy Self Esteem in Kids, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), via its parent website healthychildren.org, defines “self esteem” as “the way we perceive ourselves,” and tells us that self esteem influences:

  • Resilience
  • Relationships
  • Motivation
  • Achievements

According to this article, children’s self esteem is formed by:

  • Their own perceptions of their abilities to achieve objectives that they value
  • How they are treated by significant caregivers and others
  • The degree of alignment between their perceived and ideal selves

To build self esteem, a child needs a sense of:

  • Security (safety)
  • Belonging (love and belonging)
  • Purpose (goals)
  • Competence and accomplishment from
    • Independent problem solving
    • Creativity that yields results
    • Appropriate expectations
      • High enough that they can enjoy pride of accomplishment
      • Low enough that they can succeed in meeting them
  • Trust
    • Be trustworthy for them
    • Encourage and assume trustworthiness in them
  • Responsibility
  • Contribution
  • Choice, age- and ability-appropriate, within family values
  • Self discipline and self control
  • Encouragement, support and reward
    • Praise efforts
    • Recognize improvement
  • Acceptance regarding mistakes and setbacks
  • Family self-esteem
    • Value family members and heritage
    • Focus on individual and family strengths
Learn More

Teen Mental Health: How to Know When Your Child Needs Help

Teen Mental Health: How to Know When Your Child Needs Help, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), via its parent website healthychildren.org, discusses the following topics.

Pressures that teens face:

  • To earn high grades
  • To get admitted to certain colleges
  • To excel in sports or other pursuits
  • To stay overly busy
  • To face bullying
  • To face world problems
  • To face discrimination
  • To face poverty

Signs that a teen could be struggling with mental health issues, if consistently exhibiting one or more of the following:

  • Changes in usual patterns
    • Sleep
    • Weight
    • Eating
  • Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Canceling plans inexplicably
  • New or more intense academic struggles
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Different peer group
  • Refusal to discuss what is bothering them
  • Obsession with a certain goal
  • Signs of substance use
  • Signs of self-harm
  • New or more intense sexual interest or activity

Mental health conditions that most commonly affect teens:

  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – nearly 10% ages 13 – 17
    Anxiety – nearly 9.5%
    Depression – about 4.5%

    • Anger
    • Irritability
  • Less common
    • Eating disorders
    • Self-harm

The role of substance use:

  • Much more common than mental health issues
  • Can severely exacerbate mental health issues

The role of social media:

  • Can foster positive connections
  • Can facilitate learning
  • Can displace important activities such as sleep
  • Can expose kids to unhealthy content

How parents can start conversations about mental health with their teens:

  • Plan regular, ongoing check-ins
  • Ensure teen’s safety from judgment and punishment
  • Resolve to listen more than to speak
  • Avoid causing your teen to become defensive
  • Accept some hesitation, delay or silence
  • Understand stigma (Per NAMI Understanding What Causes Stigma)
    • Responsibility misplaced on person with condition
    • Low tolerance in others for uncertainty
    • Perception that person with condition is incompetent
    • Perception that person with condition could be dangerous

How pediatricians can support the family:

  • Can explain treatment options
  • Can refer to mental health specialists

What to do is a teen is having thoughts of suicide:

  • Call or text 988 right away
  • Contact pediatrician or mental health care provider for ongoing support

Other Topics:

  • The importance of promoting mental health proactively
  • Healthy habits
  • Family enjoyment
  • Positive activities
  • Positive relationships
Learn More

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