Often it’s the simple day-to-day routine that plays a pivotal role in shaping a girl’s view of herself and the world around her. As parents, we want to surround our daughters with enough meaning in their lives that they can develop a strong sense of self and have confidence in their abilities.
Why self-esteem is important
Girls (and boys) with good self-esteem have confidence in their ability to face challenges and a belief in their own ability to achieve goals. They have strong feelings of self-worth and as they grow, they develop an ability to surround themselves with people who support and encourage them. Girls with little self-worth or issues of low self-esteem often end up developing toxic relationships throughout their lives. There are a number of ways that parents can help boost their daughters’ self-esteem and nurture their confidence.
Swimming against the tide
With three young daughters of her own, Deborah Palgon knows that raising daughters isn’t always easy. “One experience I remember, in particular, occurred when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten,” recalls Palgon. “At the time, I was not prepared for an incident that would test my daughter’s confidence in herself. As a preschooler, my daughter always liked to play with blocks, building houses and cities for her imaginary games. Every day after she came home from school I would ask her what she played that day and every day my daughter would answer, ‘House.'”
“One day after her usual answer, I asked her why she didn’t play any other games. At that point she admitted she didn’t always feel like playing house, but none of the other girls played in the block area.”
Palgon’s daughter explained — and complained — that only the boys played in the block area. And it was this moment that Palgon realized she had an opportunity to encourage her daughter. “If you like building with blocks and you don’t do it,” her mom told her, “then, you’re missing out on fun. Tell the boys you want to play, too.” No kindergarten child wants to be deprived of a fun time, and that reasoning seemed to work for her.
From that point forward, Palgon’s young daughter played with the boys and went on to have a more enjoyable kindergarten experience. She learned to be independent and confident, and also learned that it’s sometimes difficult but necessary to swim against the tide.
Boosting her self-esteem
From kindergarten through high school and beyond, parents should take opportunities, like Palgon did, to help their daughters face challenges, overcome obstacles and pursue their goals and dreams. These simple guidelines can help parents raise confident, strong daughters.
- Tell you daughters you believe in them. Kids want reassurance and praise from their parents. Your words will encourage your daughter’s performance in school and at home.
- Encourage girls to explore activities that may be traditionally reserved for boys. Be willing to cross gender lines when it comes to sports and other activities for kids.
- Praise your daughters for their ideas and skills and not simply for their appearance. Though every little girl needs to hear that she’s pretty, you should praise her mind too!
- Let your daughters make mistakes and then encourage them to keep on trying. Kids don’t learn and grow if they are never allowed to make their own mistakes.
- Resist providing ready answers for your daughters. This type of “help” undermines their confidence. Allow them to do a little problem solving on their own.
- Become a media critic. Don’t expose your daughter to everything that’s in the media. Analyze the portrayals of girls and women on television, in magazines, in books and on the internet.
Around the web
Sites for girls abound on the internet and range from playful and creative to serious and informative. Many of these empowering websites can help boost girls’ self-esteem as they explore their creative side, discover their passions, connect with others and get answers to their questions.
A Girl’s World
This is a clubhouse and free monthly magazine with articles that change daily as well as monthly. The site includes a secure Pen Pal Club for girls all over the world. All of the content is created by girls and reflects the editorial mission to encourage girls to become active contributors of the internet.
A website for tween girls and their moms, Chicacircle encourages girls to develop their craft and visual art skills and to connect, create and collaborate with others.
A national youth organization, Girls Inc. has provided vital educational programs to millions of girls for over fifty years. Current programs address math and science education, pregnancy prevention, media literacy, adolescent health, substance abuse prevention and sport participation.
This interactive site includes eight main areas: chitchat, invention, sports, tech trips, game cafe, girls views, girls’ world and boutique. An interesting and informative resource for both kids and parents, this site is well worth it.
A playful, fun site for high school and college-age young women, this site includes contests, quizzes, fashion, fitness and some college scholarship information from major retailers.
This site aimed at tween girls describes itself by stating: “iTwixie challenges girls to express their unique talents, creations, natural beauty and true interests.”
National Women’s History Project
A nonprofit corporation, the NWHP maintains the clearinghouse for U.S. women’s history. The motto for this site: “History looks different when the contributions of women are included.” This is a great resource for girls and educators.
This website is a comprehensive resource for a variety of information about eating disorders. There are links to organizations and eating disorder centers worldwide as well as links to other useful websites, online support, and medical and psychological information about eating disorders.