What an awesome time to be a girl. Today’s girls have more possibilities and choices. They can develop their talents … follow their hearts … make goals for themselves … plan their futures and more!
As wonderful as it is to make those choices, it can be confusing. Making the right choices is important. That’s when you need to rely on your parenting skills to help your daughters develop good self-esteem.
Your daughters are not born with self-esteem.
For adolescent girls today, the cost of low self-esteem is painfully obvious. Despite today's incredible opportunities for life and career development, adolescent girls are at greater risk of depression and eating disorders than boys of the same age, and are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Girls are more likely to drop out of school. And they’re at greater risk for suicide than boys. One million girls a year become pregnant each year.
Worries about appearance and weight are an even more common way that girls face low self -esteem. For many girls, the journey to womanhood—and the chance for personal and career happiness—is cut short by choices that put physical image ahead of health and positive goals.
You can help your daughters become young ladies and women with wonderful self-esteem. Starting from the time your daughter is born, the greatest gift you can give her is love, safety, nurturing, encouragement and your time. By learning and/or improving your parenting skills, you can be a wonderful a parent to your daughter , as well as a wonderful role model.
The first three years of your daughter’s life are crucial. Those are the years that she will develop significant intellectual, emotional and social abilities. That’s when she will learn to give and accept love. She will learn confidence, security, and empathy … she’ll learn to be curious and persistent … everything she needs to learn to relate well to others, and lead a happy and productive life. The first three years are the doorway to forever!
Upon adolescence, your daughters will develop more confidence as they discover their ability to handle new responsibilities. They will learn to trust themselves in new situations and will want to be able to decide on things that affect them … albeit nothing dangerous or illegal.
Today’s girls have so many pressures … they want to fit in, achieve, compete for boys, and live up to society’s
expectations of what and who she should be. All of this can whittle away at her, especially when she doesn’t feel pretty, popular, talented, socially accepted, or loved at home. Her self-esteem can drop dramatically in high school, as well as her grades.
Some girls develop independence and the self-worth earlier than others. At times, problems can be so overwhelming, it’s difficult for a girl to handle. She could become excessively self-conscious and unsure because of trouble at home, poor role models, and a physical or learning disability.
All girls need strong guidance, encouragement, and help with discovering their gifts. And all girls need to know that they are equal to boys in ability and not left to pursue female-dominated careers if they choose not to.
How To Help Your Daughters
As parents, it is important to reinforce your daughter's confidence as you begin the process of letting her go.
Encourage her to be true to herself and to her origins.
Listen to your daughters. You have dreams for her, but she has dreams of her own. Learn to respect them, along with her thoughts, ideas, and feelings even though she will make mistakes along the way. Every child falls and then discovers balance as she learns to walk.
Fathers as well as mothers can help their daughters value themselves. As their daughter's first male admirer, a father should focus attention on who she is on the inside, not just on how she looks. Girls learn about the power relation between males and females from the men in their lives.
• A feeling of connection with nurturing adults other than parents, and especially at school and in the community.
• A can-do attitude toward activities and challenging tasks.
• An ability to control decisions related to their bodies, from an early age.
• A sense of life's possibilities in developing relationships with mentors and career role-models.
• The capacity to use a well-grounded decision-making process, tested with the help of family and mentors.
• An understanding of the biological, emotional, and social forces that effect their adolescent growth.
Helping girls set achievable, realistic goals by focusing on who they are, rather than on how they look is an important task for parents, caretakers, and educators.
Parents, especially, need to be sensitive to their daughters' development and future success. Mothers and other female role models need to be consistent in their messages to girls: Don't tell a girl to "go after your dreams" but only reward her when she is a "good girl" or "cute." Don't criticize the media for focusing on sex and glamour, and then announce that you are going on a crash diet to lose 10 pounds before the upcoming holidays.
Your Daughter’s Positive Body Image
Girls should be taught to love their bodies …no matter what kind of body type they have. It’s not about what the latest fashion magazines tell them they should look like … it’s about loving their bodies and themselves.
Teach girls to appreciate all that their body does for them—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, thinking, smiling, etc. Every day their bodies carry them one step closer to your goals.
Bodies come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. A girl’s body is uniquely hers. Although family genes play a part in how her body will be shaped, as a girl grows and develops, her body will begin to take on its genetic shape.
Teach your daughters to wear comfortable clothes that make her feel good about her body.
No matter what a girl’s body shape is she should be taught to like and respect her body the way it is built, and make the most of what she has …not what the media dictates.
Your Daughter’s Future Goals
What does your daughter want to be when she grows up? What is she really good at? What are some hobbies she has or wants to learn? Your daughter can reach all of her goals. And by helping her to set goals for herself and working to meet them … she can feel great about herself. Encourage your daughter to audition for the school play, try a new sport, to volunteer or learn about careers in which she is interested. Her self-esteem will improve when she has a goal to work toward.
Behaviors That Build Self-Esteem:
Help your daughters to dream, to plan and to succeed. Help your daughters reach for the stars!