Helping Strangers Boosts Teens Self-Esteem
Teens who help strangers appear to increase their own sense of self-worth, a recent study suggests. Researcher Laura Padilla-Walker, of Brigham Young University, and her team surveyed 681 youths between the ages of 11 and 14 to assess the impact on their self-confidence of helping, sharing with or comforting others. They found that teens felt more competent when helping strangers than they do after assisting a friend or family member. In news reports Padilla-Walker noted that helping strangers “doesn’t need to be on a grand scale. When teens can see the benefit of their actions, they often realize how much power they have to support others.” She also suggested that a family tradition of helping those who are less fortunate can help instill in children a desire to serve and, as a result, provide a greater sense of self-worth.
Laura Padilla-Walker et al, “Longitudinal Change in Adolescents’ Prosocial Behavior Toward Strangers, Friends, and Family.” Journal of Adolescence, November 2017, doi:10.1111/jora.12362
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