The Influence of Peers on Your Self-Esteem

By S. Renee Smith, Vivian Harte

How you related to your peers often determines your self-image. All children compare themselves with the other children they’re around. And especially during the teen years, peers can be more important than family to the opinions children form of themselves.

Many experiences with our peers can affect our self-concept. Here are the most significant ones:

  • Your physical appearance may have had a lot to do with your sense of self-worth. Were you considered pretty or handsome and complimented often for your looks? Were others easily attracted to you as a teenager?

  • Or was your face not the prettiest? Your size too small or too large? Did you have skin problems that made you feel ashamed? Were you too tall or too short? All of these may have led to a sense that you weren’t good enough.

  • Family financial and social positions also influence people’s views of themselves. Children and teenagers commonly compare their house and clothes to those of other people in their classroom. How did yours compare?

  • Did you have a lot of friends, or were you a loner? Did you have an active social life, or did you stay home most of the time as a child?

  • Were you bullied? Did children taunt you in school or chase you down to hurt you? Now, children torment other children over social media, email, and texting. All of these can affect one’s sense of self.

  • How did you do in school? Did you get good grades and thrive? Were you congratulated by your parents or teachers, or did you win awards? Or did you lag behind other children? If so, you may have felt you were stupid and couldn’t keep up.

In your notebook, write the answers to the questions regarding your relationships with your peers and at school. At the end, answer this question: Overall, did your experiences with peers and in school lead to a sense of healthy self-esteem or low self-esteem?

These may be difficult experiences to face. Yes, you have most likely experienced some things that have hurt you and led to a sense of low self-worth, but you can overcome them, leaving the past in the past.