Today, I’m very much privileged to have Annie Fox, M.Ed., who is an internationally respected educator, award-winning author and a trusted online adviser, specializing in helping teens become people of good character who’ve got the social courage to do the right thing online and off. Annie is a return guest to my blog, who previously shared on her own teen eczema experience here. I feel confident that she can really help those of you with eczema teens, as Annie had personal experience with eczema and cares deeply for teenagers.
Marcie Mom: Dermatologists have told me that self-esteem is a concern for teenagers with eczema, and even asked me to do a teen graphic book (I did one for the toddlers here). Let’s try to tackle self-esteem in parts, so let’s get started!
What is Self-Esteem? I understand that it’s very much to do with how one views himself/herself, can you explain this giving an example relevant to teens?
Annie: How one views oneself (on a physical level as well as on a personality/character level) is self-perception. Self-esteem, is the value we place on who we are. People with “low self-esteem” tend to shy away from challenges (speaking up, reaching out to others in friendship) because they may experience feelings of not “measuring up” for whatever reason. Most teens across the board, report feel ‘insecure’ to one degree or another at one time or another. They may think: “I’m not __________ enough.” You fill in the blank (hot, cool, smart, athletic, thin, rich, good, etc.) Obviously if a teen has a physical condition (like eczema) that is noticeable, it can make that girl or guy feel self-conscious. And that’s likely to have a negative impact on self-esteem. But if that teen has a strong support system, among family and friends, plus personal strengths in the areas of abilities, talents, etc. then that can be a powerful counter-balance to whatever feelings he/she may have about the eczema.
Marcie Mom: Now, knowing what is self-esteem, I’m assuming the whole point is we can do something about it, something to improve it even for teenagers with eczema that is apparent on their skin. What can a teenager do for himself to improve his self-esteem? And is there anything a parent can help in?
Annie: Real self-esteem comes from within. And typically that means a sense of satisfaction in one’s abilities. When a teen has opportunities to pursue his/her interests (sports, music, writing, dance, theater, art, etc.) then he/she is likely to have many moments of joy and pride. He/She may think “I can do that well!” and those occasions will build self-esteem. Does that make the eczema better? Probably not. But it will make it easier for the teen to deal with whatever emotions come with the territory, Teens with real self-esteem may feel “down” about the way their skin looks, but they don’t stay down for long.
Marcie Mom: Thanks Annie, I’ll check back with you next week on more of teen’s self-esteem. Parents can take this one week to soak in your advice and teens reading this, chin up and believe in yourself!