By: Panicha Sillapawatayanon, M.A.
We live in a world saturated with insta-models, selfies, filters, and fillers. There is a growing number of teenage girls and young women that are unhappy with the way they look and feel. According to research, self-esteem for girls continues to decline during their teenage years. Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves, and with high self-esteem comes behaviors that clearly reflect them. Teenagers with high self-esteem will be able to tolerate frustration, manage their emotions, take pride in their accomplishments, become independent, and assume responsibility. On the other hand, teenagers, particularly girls, with lower self-esteem become vulnerable to the ideal body image portrayed by the media, develop social anxiety, depression, and have difficulty managing their emotions. Low self-esteem can easily carry into adulthood and interfere with future relationships and a life that is both healthy and fulfilling.
It’s time to focus on shaping our daughters into strong, independent women who will exude confidence and take over the world. So, what can parents do to encourage their daughters to build confidence in their abilities? Here are a few ways you can start planting seeds of positive self-esteem in your daughter today:
Use yourself as a role-model for positive self-image. Asking questions such as “Does this make me look fat?” or putting your own image down can have a huge image on your own daughter’s self-image. Lead by example. Practice daily affirmations and refrain from comparisons and self-criticisms. This will help give yourself a self-esteem boost too. Be supportive and not critical, simply listen to what they have to say instead of giving your opinion. Believe it or not, they actually listen to what you are saying!
2.Praise her abilities and not her looks
It’s very easy to fall into praising how beautiful she is, or how gorgeous her luscious locks look. Our culture has trained us to praise girls on their appearance but not their abilities. Challenge yourself to compliment your daughter on her abilities twice as much as you compliment her on her appearance. Perhaps praise her on her achievements, skills, and talents. Remember, it’s what she DOES that really matters. Bonus points if you do the same with all the other girls (nieces, your daughter’s friends, other women in the family).
3.Let her have a say
If want our daughters to be a good decision maker in that executive position then she will need practice. Let her have a say in appropriate decision-making matters whether it is about how to divide up the chores or how to spend family vacation time. It’s not about giving free reign, but it’s about involving them in making a decision and learning how to deal with the consequences. Teach her that her opinions matter. Teach her howto think and not whatto think.
4.Paddling her own canoe
This goes along with giving your daughter a say in decision making matters. Help her build resilience for life’s later challenges by letting her struggle but empathizing with her when she faces the consequences. If you create a perfect utopia of a childhood, she will have a difficult time handling adversity. Girls are often portrayed as a damsel in distress, or a princess that needs saving. It’s important for her to know she’s capable of dealing with difficult situations on her own and you will be there to support her in the aftermath. Remember it’s about finding her own way, not having her own way.
She doesn’t have to learn how to surf or take up horse-riding (well unless she wants to!). Exercising is a great way to increase feel-good hormones such as endorphins. It could be as simple as taking a walk or going hiking together. Taking care of your own body teaches self-respect. It’ll also give you a chance to take care of yourself as well.
It’s impossible to be an unwavering and confident woman all the time, but you can start showing your daughter how to love and care for herself by trying some of the ideas above. Raising a confident young woman is a long-term process. We’ve been instilled to speak or behave a certain way, so it’s okay if some days you accidently say things like “boys will be boys” or “that’s more ladylike”. Don’t give up! Perhaps practice some of these things for yourself first before you use them with your daughter (it’ll be a confidence booster, get it?).
Thrive Therapy Studio is now offering a Teen Girls Anxiety group. Topics of interest include perfectionism, school and social challenges, managing stress, and expectations. Check out the group description here. Call us today to reserve a spot for your teen daughter!
If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."