Girl’s today have more self-esteem problems and pressure than ever before; just ask your daughter about how much she has to juggle these days. Your daughter’s self-esteem is impacted by academics, social media, and friends that are telling her how she should act and the ways she should feel. These outside pressures can bring her confidence and self-esteem down tremendously.
Self-esteem plummets in girls at much younger ages. By mid elementary school, girl’s self-esteem begins to decline. Here are some tools and skills to improve your daughter’s self-esteem so that when faced with challenges, she feels confident and empowered.
5 Ways to Improve Her Self-Esteem
There are many things you can do to help your daughter feel safe and comfortable these days. Being able to talk to you is extremely important for developing self-esteem, as she is more likely to express her feelings and come to you for help again. When she talks to you and you communicate effectively that you understand and are listening, this is a way of helping her improve her self-esteem.
- Give her some space. Many parents see their upset child walk through the door and anxiously press them for details about their day. Don’t be this parent. This makes your child feel overwhelmed and actually pushes her away. Ask her if she wants to talk and if she says no, let her take some time for herself. Monitor your own anxiety and check in with her a little later. This allows her to sit with her emotions and shows her you trust she can be alone with intense feelings, which, on a deep level, makes her realize she can manage them. This is huge for her self-esteem development and feeling confident about handling her emotions on her own.
- Don’t be afraid to let her fail. Try not to fix every problem. Girls who have to learn from their failures, say forgetting her homework, are more likely to creatively come up with solutions so that they don’t fail again. When your daughter comes home and is upset about this, it is an opportunity to talk about her feelings and ask her about how you can help her remember next time. Solving her problems for her will not give her the insight or recall to do it differently next time.
- Validate her struggle. If you tell your child how to solve a problem or invalidate her current struggle, you aren’t helping her child’s self-esteem. Even if your intention isn’t to do so, glossing over the feeling she is attempting to convey is invalidating and leads her to feel like you aren’t listening.
For example: “I can’t write this math, I hate myself.” This may be followed with, “Oh honey you are great at math, here let’s do one at a time.” This may not seem invalidating, but it is. “Don’t be silly you are a talented child; I love you; don’t say you hate yourself,” totally glosses over what they are saying and makes light of their feelings.
Instead, try, “math can be really hard, tell me what part is hard for you?” Allow her to hear that you agree with her challenges and also that you support her, instead of fixing it for her (which may imply you can’t do this without help and can impact self-esteem greatly). Girls need to hear that they can accomplish things on their own.
- Praise the process. Your child comes home with a B+ on her project. Praising the grade has been ingrained in our minds for decades, but don’t, at least not yet. Praise her accomplishment and effort instead. “Your hard work on that project paid off! I’m so proud of you.” This lets her know that you notice how hard she is working.
- Avoid barriers. Barriers already appear easily during this transitional period of time. Saying, “Why did you do that?” or “You should have . . .” can put a huge barrier between you and your child. Instead, ask her what happened so that you get a better grasp of the situation. Research shows that by the age of 9, a girl’s self-esteem actually begins to decline. There is a shift in focus; outside appearances begin to take precedence over her internal qualities, competition among each other becomes prevalent, and insecurities are created. Your daughter is dealing with issues you may not see and barriers will only hurt your ability to help her improve her self-esteem.
It’s never too early to start improving your daughter’s self-esteem. Girls with high self-esteem feel confident about their talents and abilities, regardless of how smart or successful others perceived them to be. They express their feelings and respect themselves, as well as others. The goal is to create more confidence, so your daughter feels she can take on anything and succeed.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.