Between maintaining academics, hobbies, friendships and parental approval, teens are constantly overwhelmed by the pressure to figure out their own personal identities while also trying to determine where exactly they fit in.
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When Mary Piper, PhD, published Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls nearly twenty years ago, she described a phenomenon observed by many but understood by few. Piper and others’ examinations into why adolescence is a particularly difficult time for girls’ self-esteem reveals the tremendous difficulties young girls face. Parents struggle to understand their changing daughters and frequently misinterpret signs that something deeper may be wrong for age old excuses about the influence of hormones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that girls between the ages of 10 to 14 are the fastest growing population at risk for suicide.
Another factor which may be impacting the rise in suicides is “cybersuicides,” the growing number of internet websites, forums, and chat rooms being accessed by teenagers looking to connect with others who share suicidal thoughts and desire to know about ways to commit suicide. Both Gilligan and Piper have written of the critical need in every girl of finding her own true voice, something Ophelia lacked. Does Your Teen Need Help?Call Today and talk to The Right Step Teen Rehab Advisor and begin the journey to addiction freedom.
This constant anxiety and desire for approval can take a toll on your teen’s self-esteem. We need to ensure our teens have a healthy self-image and can fully comprehend their own self-worth by providing positive guidance and reinforcement. Encourage your teen to explore his or her interests by joining clubs and organizations that will provide consistent opportunities for self-expression. In order for teens to become more comfortable with themselves and grow in confidence, they need to have the chance to tackle obstacles and challenges on their own. As great and capable as we know our teens can be, rejection and failure is unfortunately inevitable. When your teen has the ability to see his or her own self-worth and value, your teen will be more likely to choose to engage in positive, healthy and safe activities. Please read our Privacy Policy to learn about our personal data collection and use practices.
What most parents, grandparents, and other adults in the lives of girls witness is that when healthy girls are young, they are often carefree and whimsical, they share their ideas and opinions easily, and what’s more, they believe in themselves.

The forces applied to their forming identities by media and culture are at odds with pressures asserted by family and community. Girls at this time have been observed to lose their vitality, their resilience, their immunity to depression, their sense of themselves and their character.” So the phenomenon that Mary Piper referred to is nothing new. Knowing that these times are ahead for our daughters, doing everything we can to bolster them ahead of and through the process, and offering open ears for the moments when they do find their voice is a part of the important work we do in helping to correct a society destabilized and made unsafe for growing adolescents. And while today's teens exhibit many differences from my generation of awkward adolescents, one thing remains the same: the tiniest phrase or action can send them into a downward spiral of self-doubt. In fact, teens with low self-esteem are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as underage drinking or over-the-counter cough medicine abuse, as a way to de-stress and get temporary relief from their anxieties. Teens with healthy self-esteem are more likely to have the confidence to be able to resist succumbing to negative peer pressure. Such activities can be outlets for stress and anxiety relief while simultaneously building confidence.
If your teen is ill-prepared to handle adversity, it can be extremely detrimental to his or her self-esteem. Their self-confidence is usually good and they are unlikely to fear their ability to conquer subjects such as mathematics, science, or the prospect of entering future professions simply because they are girls. Television programs and movies marketed strongly to girls nearly always emphasize a romantic boy-girl plotline in which a female lead becomes enamored with a boy rather than simply perusing an adventure and attending to her own talents, strengths, and friendships (for example, every Disney princess movie until 2012’s Brave). Shakespeare’s Ophelia was a misunderstood girl who, likewise, had trouble understanding the troubling world around her. No culture that emphasizes confusing and contradictory messages and which teaches its girls they are not going to be good at math and science, is maximizing on its potential. Try as we might — and believe me, we do — but we can't protect our children from every insult that's thrown at them. This is especially important during the summer months when teens typically have more free time available and tend to spend a lot of that time with their peers. Whether its pushing his or her curfew back an hour later or letting your teen drive him or herself to school, identify where it may be appropriate to loosen up on the reins on your teen’s life. Marketers advertise company’s products to girls by much the same method: by what is pretty, “sassy,” sexy (yes, sexy), and romantic.
Researchers noted that after concern about the side effects (notably the side effects of suicidality) of antidepressants in young people caused fewer antidepressants to be prescribed for this age bracket, the suicide rates increased.

It’s hard to decide whether she intended to kill herself or whether her death was an accident, but the symbolism of Ophelia and her death illustrate the confusion, sadness, and despairing nature that can needlessly impact the lives of too many young women.
Boys are impacted negatively by these things, as well as by the early sexualization of girls. We can, however, give them the tools to combat those who try to hurt them, even if they are only hurting themselves. Allowing increased freedom shows that you trust your teen and are confident in his or her ability to navigate obstacles. Failure is not always a result of one’s own shortcomings, but rather a result of circumstance.
For boys, advertisers market using entirely different strategies: by what is adventuresome, exciting, clever, and cool. More studies need to be done to determine whether the rise in suicides can be correlated with young people not receiving medication they need for depression. If your teen knows that you believe in him or her, your teen will be more likely to believe in him or herself. Encourage your teen to always remain open-minded when things don’t go as planned and to have a plan b whenever possible. Compliments about their intelligence, insight, or beauty are met with, “don’t say that!” when before, they were happy to be told they were smart, wise, or lovely. Girls are being condescended by nearly everyone, it seems, and because they are still too young to understand it at this age, they fall victim to the encouraging too-clever marketer’s appeal: be this, buy this, become this. The more we teach all children their story is one of adventure and friendship, of talent-discovery and strength-seeking, the healthier their adolescence and our societies will be.
Make sure your teen knows that he or she can always come to you if needed to vent about current frustrations. And finally, remind your teen that you are always available to help him or her figure out how to best navigate situations.

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