From a young age, support your daughter's interests and help her discover her talents. Whether they lie in sports, academics, dancing or painting, help your teen daughter nurture her gifts to the best of your ability. Encourage her to try new things and keep in mind that she may fail several times before finding something she loves. By helping her succeed and develop confidence in her talents rather than simply praising how she looks and acts, you will help her build her self esteem.
Don't expect your daughter to be overflowing with self confidence if you are full of self doubt yourself. Don't criticize your own appearance or put yourself down. Dr. Phil says, "If she watches you looking in the mirror saying, 'I look terrible. I look fat. I hate the way I look in this,' and she watches how you cower from life and don't carry yourself with dignity and pride and your head up, then she is going to learn and mimic those very things." You'd be surprised how much your own low self esteem and body image issues influence your daughter.
Friends are very important to teens and can help boost self confidence. Though you can't pick and choose her friends, you can encourage positive friendships in her life. Teach your teen about mutual respect and acceptance. Though her goal might be to join the most popular crowd, she's more likely to develop healthy, long-term friendships if she concentrates more on peers with common interests, goals and values rather than just popularity. Real friends accept each other, even with all our little quirks and differences; stick together through tough times; and celebrate all our triumphs and successes, large and small. Establish your home as a place where your daughter can hang out with her friends so you can get to know them.
Keep open lines of communication with your teen daughter and don't make any topic taboo. She should be able to come to you to talk about anything from grades to drugs to sex. Don't try too hard to be a friend to her -- you are still a parent and an authority figure -- but let her know that you are always available to talk or just listen. Talk with your daughter about self image and what defines her as a person. Help her realize her value as a young woman.
...but they mean a lot to teens. Teach your daughter that beauty is not about looking like a model or movie star, but rather taking care of herself. If your daughter has a poor body image, help her realize that there are things she can change and things she can't. If she's overweight or out of shape, start exercising together and promote healthy habits. If she's not happy with her makeup routine, take her for a mini-makeover at a department store. A makeup artist can show her how to use cosmetics to highlight her assets while still looking natural. Even when primping, continue to put the emphasis back on your daughter's talents. Makeup, hair and clothes might make you look good from the outside, but as cliche as it sounds, it's what's on the inside that counts.
It may be difficult, but you must learn to praise your daughter's achievements and actions, not her looks. This should start from a very young age, but it's also extremely important for teens. Instead of telling your daughter how beautiful she looks, praise her progress in school, accomplishments in sports or changes in behavior. Though everyone needs to hear that she looks pretty every now and again, compliments and praise about her true self will go a long way in boosting her self confidence.
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