As a parent, you just might be the most influential person in your daughter’s life, especially on her self-esteem. Knowing you are that influence and this transition through adolescence is rough, here are three things you can do to promote a positive self-image:
Focus attention on your daughter’s talents and abilities
Every person has a different set of talents, abilities, physical attributes and set of emotions. For girls, they have long been told that their value lies in their physical attributes. As her parent, you can begin to combat this message early in life. Begin early by continually focusing on talents, skills, and personality traits as the important factors that make up an individual. Let your daughter know her value lies in who she is and not her outside appearance. Of course, taking care of yourself by eating right, exercising, and proper grooming is important, but the outside shell matters less than the personality and spirit on the inside. From the time your daughter is young begin teaching her that she matters because of who she is on the inside.
Be your daughter’s number one fan and always listen more than you talk
Every parent loves their child; the question becomes whether every child knows and feels this love on a daily basis. Become your daughter’s number one fan and make sure she knows that she is cared for and loved! Attend as many of your daughter's events as possible so that she knows she is of value to you, and you support her in her activities. Praise her when you notice she is working hard or giving an extra effort to achieve a goal. The more positive things she hears from you, the more the negatives of the world will slip away. If you let her know just how valuable she is to you and how much you support her you can make a dramatic impact on her life.
Allow your daughter to have control of her own destiny and decisions
As a parent, you’ll want the best of everything for your daughter. Of course, you want her to have everything you missed out on as a child, and have every opportunity possible, but it’s important to know which of those opportunities and advantages she is truly interested. Begin when she is young to establish a relationship of communication and trust; this will allow you to truly get to know your daughter. She will begin to tell you what her hopes and dreams are, what she wants to do when she grows up, and where she sees herself in the future. Listen to these goals! Let her know that they matter and that you are here to support her in accomplishing what she wants to do. The more you allow her to make her own decisions and support her the more she will value her own opinions and her own worth.
For girls growing up in a world inundated with media references to physical appearance, it’s important to help your daughter realize her self-worth is not based on what she is on the outside, but the important person she is on the inside. By letting her make decisions, cheering her on and supporting her interests you can help her build a much higher self-esteem.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.