In a recent poll, 78% of teenagers say they rely "a lot" or a "fair amount" on their parents for
support and guidance. Without that support, kids often report low levels of self esteem. And lowered self esteem can translate to serious issues: problems in school, experimentation with drugs, or sexual activity.
While most parents are well-intentioned when it comes to expressing their appreciation for their child, too often it comes as an afterthought. "I think it's very important, and I think that's like a lot of the reason why kids get into drugs
and kids get into teen pregnancy and all that kind of stuff...it's because, you know, their parents aren't there for them saying, you know, I love you. I just didn't bring you in this world for nothing but you're here for a reason," said Jill, age 13.
Experts have long stressed the importance of parents showing children they are grateful for them. A recently released study indicates that 90 % of all suicidal teens say that gratefulness from parents is
something lacking in their lives.
"The one common thread among them seems to be that they don't feel appreciated by their parents," advises Dr. Nancy McGarrah, psychologist.
What Parents Should Know
While a child's self-esteem has been commonly known to affect school performance, it also directly relates to many other issues
affecting kids today.
One-fifth of all eighth graders in the U.S. are considered to be at high risk of school failure.
The teen suicide rate has doubled since 1968. Ten percent of adolescent boys and 18 % of girls have attempted suicide and 30% have considered it.
Violence in schools is now the primary concern of school administrators nationwide. Eighty-two percent report
a significant increase in violence during the past five years.
Over the past 20 years, anorexia (nervosa), an eating disorder, has affected double the number of kids it once did.
Homicide is now this country's third leading cause of death for elementary and middle school children. There were 2,555 juvenile homicides in 1990 alone.
Two separate studies have concluded that the most common
catalyst for violence was "self-image compensating," a by-product of low self-esteem.