SELF-CONCEPT AND ADOLESCENTS SMOKING BEHAVIOR
Talking about adolescent behavior is always interesting and endless, isn’t it?
A few years ago I completed my master degree in Psychology by doing research on smoking behavior in Junior High School adolescents. The purpose of my research is to determine whether there is a relationship between self-concept and conformity to peers with smoking behavior. The subjects in my research were 111 adolescents aged 12-16 years old, Junior High School students who have a smoking habit. In my research, the data collection method I used are attitude scale, peer conformity scale and smoking behavior scale, and the results of the study concluded that these variables are important predictors of smoking behavior in adolescents.
In part 1, I will discuss self-concept and adolescent smoking behavior. Self-concept is an important part of an individual’s life, self-concept is a reflection that is seen, felt, and experienced by individuals about themselves. The self-concept supports the individual in living their life, because how they see their self as well as they live their life.
The self-concept is formed through the individual’s learning process in their interactions with the surrounding environment. These interactions will provide experiences or feedback that they received from the environment, so individuals will get a picture of themselves. The most basic stage is the primary self-concept, where this self-concept is formed on the basis of their experience of their immediate environment, i.e. their home environment. Meanwhile, humans are not born with a self-concept. Self-concept originated and rooted in childhood experiences and it develops, especially as a result of their relationships with other people. Self-concept is not formed in one period only, but it is formed through a long process since the child begins to recognize and interact with the environment. In interacting with other people, individuals will receive responses that can be used as a mirror to value and look at themselves. The formation of self-concept cannot be separated from lifelong experiences.
There are 3 components of self-concept, namely:
Everyone consciously determines who their ideal self is, from children to adults, we will continue to look for who our ideal self is. Usually there are idol figures that are imitated. At least we as parents are the first model for our children. Every action we did it would and could be imitated by our children. There is nothing wrong with children imitating their idol figures, but if they choose the wrong idol, this will give a negative impact on the child’s further development. For example, if adolescents idolize artists whose lives consume drugs, alcohol and free sex, then whether realize it or not, children will accept the principles of life, habits and appearance of their idol figures.
It is the way we see and think about ourselves in the present moment. It’s like a mirror of yourself. A person will always look in the mirror to know how they behave in a situation. When we look confident in the mirror, we will act like a confident person.
We can build self-image in our children by giving them some positive words about themselves. For example: “You are a beautiful child”, “You are a smart child”, “You are a diligent child”, “You are a brave child”, “You are a great child”
3. Self Esteem
Self Esteem is the result of a comparison between Self-Ideal and Self-Image. If the child’s Self-Image is in line with, or close to their Ideal Self, then their Self-Esteem will be high. We as parents can show that our child’s Self-Esteem is more important than anything. Example: if our child breaks a plate, make sure to ask them about their condition first and do not scold them, “The broken plate didn’t hurt you, right?” Indirectly, parents have taught them that they are valuable.
Remember moms, adolescent period is a period of transitional development between childhood and adulthood that includes the change of biological, cognitive, and social. And the important aspect of adolescent biological development is puberty which begins to be experienced in their adolescent period. Puberty is marked by changes in body shape and the achievement of hormonal maturity which would be followed by psychological changes such as the appearance of certain pictures about their body shape.
Here, I’d like to have a little discuss about the characteristics of adolescents that I believe all of you, the mothers, who have adolescent children will be able to see and feel what is happening to our adolescent children. In general, the characteristics of adolescent according to Havigurst (in Hurlock, 2004) are as follows:
a. Adolescence is an important period
Adolescent experience a rapid and important physical and mental development, where all of these developments lead to the need for mental adjustments and the formation of new attitudes, values and interests.
b. Adolescence as a transition period
Transition does not mean breaking with or changing from what has done before. Transition is a movement from one stage of development to the next stage of development, what happened before will leave a mark on what is happening now and in the future, also influence new behavior and attitudes at the next stage.
c. Adolescence is a period of change
The rate of change in attitudes and behavior during adolescence period parallels with the rate of physical change. Physical changes that occur rapidly are followed by rapid changes in behavior and attitudes.
d. Adolescence as a problematic age
Each period has its own problems, but the problem of adolescence is often find a difficult problem for both boys and girls to overcome.
e. Adolescence is a time of searching for identity
The search for identity begins in late childhood, conforming to the group standards is more important than being individualistic. Adjustment to the group in early adolescence is still important for boys and girls, but gradually they begin to crave self-identity, in other words they want to be a different person from others.
f. Adolescence is an age of fear
The cultural stereotypes assume that teenagers are untidy children, cannot be trusted and tend to have a destructive behavior, causing adults to have to guide and be unsympathetic to adolescent’s normal behavior.
g. Adolescence as an unrealistic period
Teenagers see themselves and others as they want and not as they are, especially in terms of ideals. The more unrealistic their ideal is, the angrier they become. Adolescents would be offended and disappointed if others disappoint them or if they fail to achieve their own goals.
h. Adolescence as the threshold of adulthood
As the age of maturity approaches, adolescents become anxious to leave the stereotypes of teenagers and to give the impression that they are almost adults and mature, adolescents begin to focus on behaviors associated with adult status, such as smoking, drinking, using drugs and engaging in sexual acts. They assume that these behaviors will give them the image they wanted.
Among the many factors that cause smoking behavior in adolescents, I consider the self-concept factor as the most important factor in adolescent smoking behavior. Self-concept affects smoking behavior, adolescents who have a good self-concept will be able to refrain from smoking, and will not be easily influenced in social situations. Our task is to form and build a good self-concept in our adolescent children, because self-concept is first shaped and built by the family. Let’s build a positive self-concept in our children.
Ok moms, good luck
* Hurlock, E.B. (2004).Lifespan Development