Everyone knows how difficult parenting is and sometimes we really don’t know what we’re doing. Raising daughters in this social media driven society has extra layers of “stuff” we need to sort through which could contribute to parents feeling overwhelmed, lost, frustrated and probably worried.
All of our specialized work with young and teen girls has given us some insight that we’d love to pass on to you. Everyone talks about self-esteem but what is it and how do we help our daughter’s grow more of that? We asked Morgan Cohen, LGSW, our resident young & teen girls expert. Here is what Morgan feels is essential to know when raising confident girls.
Self-esteem is the foundation of our own personal belief system. We are all born with a healthy dose of self-esteem but it can become eroded over time by exposure to negative messages in society and social media (i.e. how girls should look, act and be). How we perceive ourselves can really affect how we perceive the world around us and it can start at an early age.
Elementary aged girls with negative self-esteem have lower grades, poor coping skills and disappointing social interactions. Ultimately, negative self-esteem can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression and even self-harming behaviors.
If you think your daughter may be experiencing low self-esteem, there is hope. Here are some tips you can use at home to help your daughter overcome negative self-esteem.
- Be the role model. Children look up to you and see everything that you do. If you have a negative self-image and project negative self-talk around your daughter, she will learn those very same habits. Teach your daughter to love herself by loving yourself!
- Support independence. Your daughter will feel empowered and have a sense of control when she can make or influence decisions in her own life. As a parent, we want to shield our children from failure and protect them but it is okay to let them figure out some things on their own. Help your daughter practice positive decision making skills by letting her figure out the answers while you coach and guide her as needed.
- Accept failures and give positive feedback. Don’t always punish your daughter for her failures. Talk about mistakes and empathize with her. Normalizing failure can help ease the disappointment and pain associated with failing. Don’t forget to give your daughter positive feedback for her efforts as well as outcome. An example would be, “I’m so proud that you practiced so hard for your dance recital” or “Good job putting so much hard work into your school project.”
If you feel your daughter is experiencing more severe symptoms of anxiety and depression as a result of low self-esteem, it may be time to get professional help.
You can try this fun and easy self-esteem inventory at home to measure how you perceive your own self-worth and you can try it with your daughter. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write down all the positives things you like about yourself (herself) or what you perceive to be strengths. On the other side, write down what you perceive to be your weaknesses. If yours or your daughter’s weaknesses seem to be longer than the strengths, then it might be time to make some changes!
The licensed therapists at Empowered Connections work with women who are struggling with self-esteem issues and are now accepting new clients. If you’d like to know more about Morgan Cohen, LGSW, please see her biography at www.empoweredconnections.net