In the tween and teen years, it’s mission critical to instill confidence in our young, impressionable girls. How can you help raise your daughter to have high self-esteem, self worth and confidence?
Teenage girls today are likely more challenged to maintain a positive self-esteem than when their moms were their age. Our society and the media set such high (and often unapproachable) standards on girls to be “perfect” and to “fit in.”
“Self esteem and happiness are not directly related to praise and awards,” says Kelly Klaus, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in San Juan Capistrano. “Self-esteem is felt with a sense of value that was honestly earned from effort of the child. ‘You are so smart,’ is very different from ‘you studied so hard to earn that grade.’”
Here are some tips to help empower our girls
But don’t compliment girls only on how they look – parents’ praise should be focused on efforts and accomplishments rather than physical appearance. By recognizing her talents and abilities, you will help build her self-confidence.
“There are two types of praise: process-oriented and outcome-oriented,” says Kelly. “The first focuses on effort, persistence and resourcefulness. When we praise our daughters for hard work and overcoming adversity, they want to keep engaging in experiences. If we praise them for the outcome, we put the emphasis on the place they arrived rather than the effort. Our daughters learn that if they are not first or win, it’s not worth the effort. It is so important to allow our daughters the gift and experience to fail at something so they appreciate their own ability to rise above the failure and feel in control.”
Be her role model and encourage strong role models
If your daughter sees that you are happy and comfortable in your own appearance – no matter what shape or size – she will grow up to love hers. Never put down your own body in front of your daughter and don’t have a “wardrobe crisis” in her presence.
Want to reinforce the beauty in strength? Encourage strong role models – whether it be a family member, teacher, someone in your daughter’s community or other women with admirable achievements (see page XX for feature on Inspirational, History-Making Women).
Keep the lines of communication open
Allow your daughter to lead the conversations and really listen to what she has to say. Encourage her to talk about what’s going on in school, with her friends, or even about what’s playing on television and the things she sees in media. Have open and frank discussions about relationships, body image, appearances and peer pressure, as well as how girls are portrayed in media.