We all want our children to grow up strong, confident and independent. We want them to have healthy relationships with others, a great self-image and the knowledge that they can do anything they set their minds to. However, in reality, many young girls are still struggling with poor body image, low self-esteem, social pressures and academic difficulties.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is the feeling of pride we have in our accomplishments and ourselves. Studies show that girls with poor self-esteem struggle through pre-adolescence and adolescence and are at a greater risk for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drug and alcohol problems and risky sexual behaviors. Helping girls to feel good about themselves during their tween and teen years will help them to lead happier and more productive lives as they grow into adulthood. Powerful girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to make positive choices about their own lives and the world around them. They become strong teachers, mothers, advocates and leaders. So how, in this society that begins to put pressure on girls in childhood, can parents minimize the effects of peer pressure and media on our daughters and help them develop a healthy self-image and positive outlook on life?
Raising Powerful Girls
- Encourage your daughter to follow her passion: Whether it’s in sports, art, music or drama, full engagement with an activity she loves will boost her self-esteem and resilience.
- Encourage her to be part of a team: Whether it is a sports team, dance company or drama cast, by getting your daughter involved in a positive group activity will help her learn to develop skills to build relationships and will increase her self-esteem.
- Encourage her to solve her own problems: By rushing to fix problem, you will be reinforcing a sense of low self-worth and the feeling that she cannot solve her own problems. While it is important to intervene at times, try to help your daughter learn strong problem solving skills by asking for her opinions, ideas and solutions for problems.
- Encourage participation in a physical activity. According to studies, girls who are active have a greater chance to excel academically than non-active girls. Participating in any kind of physical activity has also been shown to reduce stress, depression, and chronic diseases.
- Spend time together: Let her decide on what you should do together. Something fun or serious, it doesn’t matter.
- Get Dad involved: Girls with involved fathers are more likely to go to college, are more ambitious, more successful in school, more likely to attain careers of their own, less dependent, more self protective, and less likely to date an abusive man.
- Listen to her: Make eye contact, drop what else you’re doing and really listen to her. Ask questions, be interested and engage, engage, engage.
- Speak positively about yourself: Providing a positive role model for your daughter is key. If you are strong, positive, self-assured and caring, chances are good that she will be too. Convey the values that are important to you and your family.
- Get the entire family involved in healthy food choices: The best way to have a daughter with healthy eating habits is to come from a family with healthy eating habits. Modeling a healthy attitude toward food and positive lifestyle choices – no smoking, drinking or drug use – will increase the likelihood that your daughter will make the same positive choices.
- Let your daughter have a voice: In the decisions that affect her life. Let her choose her own clothes and what activities she participates in. Even when she disagrees with you, teach her how to voice her opinion in a positive and assertive manner. Give her the tools to navigate relationships with others and maintain her convictions, even when you disagree.
- Encourage her to take physical risk: Help her face the things she is afraid of and praise her when she conquers her fears. Whether as part of a team or individually, succeeding in physical activity will boost your daughter’s self-confidence
- Tell your daughter you love her: Over and over again. Unconditionally. Tell her with your words and your actions. Tell her why you love her, why you are proud of her. Tell her what makes her strong and beautiful. Validate the person she is becoming. Spend time with her. Listen to her. Support her and most of all, enjoy her!